Kitch 101: How to start a ghost kitchen

What is a ghost kitchen and how do you start one? Here's an all-in-one guide to launching your ghost kitchen.

Dan Unter

Since 2020, the term “ghost kitchen” has become all too familiar. But what does it really mean?

No, restaurants are not seeing an increase in paranormal activity—rather, a new phenomenon of shared kitchen space and opportunity.

What is a ghost kitchen?

In simple terms, a ghost kitchen is a restaurant without a storefront—it’s the kitchen only!

This could be a delivery-only concept, a catering business, or a direct-shipping CPG producer.

What stands it apart from other businesses is that the kitchen in use typically belongs to another restaurant or business. So Joe’s Cafe on Lexington, which closes at 6 pm, can rent out its kitchen at night to Allie’s Grilled Cheese, which delivers late-night grub across the East Side. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Why do I need a ghost kitchen?

A ghost/dark/cloud/shadow kitchen—there are countless terms for it now—isn’t for everyone. But it’s helpful for those on a low budget who want to take the chance on a new concept without breaking the bank.

Those renting out a ghost space are able to focus strictly on the food at a low rent, while host restaurants take care of the overhead. This gives entrepreneurs the chance to test a market without an existing customer base and prove success before committing to a brick-and-mortar. Think of it as an intro course for restauranteurs with a low barrier to entry.

Do I want a ghost kitchen?

Let’s look at your restaurant operation:

  • I’m just getting started . Well, unless you have lots of available cash to spend on a store, equipment, signage, carpentry, and the leverage of the 10-year lease, then I would suggest looking into a ghost kitchen as a low-risk way to launch. Find out what works, collect data, use social media, see what your customers are telling you. If it’s not a winner, you’re able to pivot or try something else. If it’s a winner, then other options start opening up, from brick-and-mortar to multiple ghost sites.
  • I have 1-5 places . Okay, you have your operation rolling, but how do you expand? A ghost kitchen is a great way to “fill out the map” for delivery and catering beyond your brick-and-mortar locations. It also gives you a chance to test new markets. If you’re doing well in Boston you might do well in Philly, DC, or NYC. With a ghost kitchen, you can try that out without the risk.
  • I have 10-100 places . You have your operation down to a science. Ghost kitchens are the best way for you to achieve quick ROI area development. Let’s look at the suburbs, different cities, micro markets like college towns. All the while you train staff, get catering clients, and “soft launch” in many markets, for the price of a security deposit in one location.

Let’s look at your meal kit/meal plan or CPG operation:

  • Most meal kit companies are looking for regional exposure, so city center locations are less desirable. We would steer you towards locations outside a city, but within the metro area, to be able to serve as many people as possible. Ghost kitchens in this case should be close to highways and have loading docks.
  • The same goes for Consumer Packaged Good CPG operations. Some commissaries are great options if they have in-house packaging and have licenses for sales across state borders (FDA or USDA). Otherwise you’ll be looking at the same types of ghost kitchens as meal kit companies that can suit your needs.

Does a ghost kitchen have the right licensing for me?

There are many different types and sizes of food operations and thus different licenses that address these types of businesses. Your responsibility is to know exactly what you need. What we can tell you is that ghost kitchen hosts are very motivated to get successful businesses in their kitchens, and many are willing to work with operators to obtain the correct license to allow for continued use of their space.

How to start a ghost kitchen

So you’ve got your food concept sorted and you’re ready to get started. You need to find a space licensed to legally sell food to consumers. Then you’ll be dealing with contracts, leasing, and navigating the payment process. Luckily, we’ve got a marketplace that matches you with available space in your area and does all of the above. Seriously, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to kickstart a new restaurant.

Narrow down your search

First: you need to find a kitchen! Local restaurants, cafes, hotels, bars, nightclubs, country clubs, you name it—they all have kitchen space just waiting to be utilized.

Think about what kind of space you need: are you looking for a kitchen just for a few hours or days? What about a month or more? What kind of equipment do you require: a pizza oven, a salamander, 50 feet of counter space? Make sure you're able to meet these needs before contacting a host to negotiate terms.

Find a delivery partner

Your food is prepped, now how do you get it out there? If you’re planning a delivery-only concept, you need to take care of the delivery part here. Your options are simple: handle deliveries yourself (or with additional staff), find a third-party delivery solution, or use a combination of both.

Delivery apps like ChowNow, DoorDash, and Postmates are a dime a dozen these days, and the difference typically narrows down to commission fees and convenience. To narrow these down, make a simple pro and cons list that takes into account revenue share, user base, location, and reliability.

Looking to handle delivery yourself? Remember that if you’re not doing it all yourself, you will need to find a staffing solution—and with that, a payroll solution. Find yourself a reliable driver with a reliable car and make sure your insurance covers off-premise activity.

While you’re at it, make sure you include the offset of delivery costs into your menu prices. Those fees add up fast and you don’t want delivery services to drain you of your profits!

Launch your concept and get the word out

This is the easy part—we promise. Sure, you hope your food will speak for itself, but the market is highly saturated, and you’ve gotta stick out. Here are some quick tips for marketing your ghost kitchen and making it a success:

  • Build a website! Hungry people in your area are searching for food solutions, and Google makes it easy to keep search results local. Don’t have time to code a whole website? Start with a Google My Business page and connect with customers there.
  • Maintain a social media presence: Instagram has 500+ million daily active users (DAUs) globally, and food goes viral fast. Create some unique reels , share some delicious photos , and don’t be afraid to send some perks to local food influencers.
  • Set up a solid delivery presence. Coupons and features help— here are some guidelines from GrubHub, for example.
  • Rely on word of mouth—it’s old school, but it’s always effective. Encourage people to share their food experiences or run “refer a friend” promotions, and watch the orders rise.
  • Offer something unique in your delivery: Happy Meals work for a reason. Stickers, collectibles, or even a handwritten note will work to keep customers intrigued, loyal, and waiting to see what they’ll get next.

No matter which way you go, we’ve got a marketplace that matches you with available space in your area and does all of the above.

Sign up for more like this.

  • Instant Tip Payouts
  • Accept Cashless Tips
  • About Tip Distribution Software
  • Success Stories
  • Restaurants
  • Stadiums & Entertainment Venues
  • Private Clubs
  • Hospitality Employees
  • Franchise Restaurants
  • Multi-location Restaurants & Hospitality Groups
  • Independent Restaurants
  • Pizza & Other Delivery
  • Cafes & Bakeries
  • Bars, Clubs & Nightlife
  • Hotel Food & Beverage Outlets
  • Restaurant Types
  • Restaurant Employees
  • Advisors & Vendors
  • Users & Friends
  • Integration Partners
  • Restaurant and Hospitality Consultants
  • Accountants
  • POS Hardware / Resellers
  • User & Friends
  • Free Tip Pooling Calculator Templates
  • Digital Tipping Guide for Restaurant Pros
  • Downloadable Restaurant Tools

What Are Ghost Kitchens: Everything You Need to Know

Restaurant ghost kitchen

In case you haven’t heard: ghost kitchens are kind of having a moment.

Also called virtual, cloud, delivery-only, shadow, and dark kitchens, ghost kitchens are a relatively new concept that emerged in the past year or two. But in 2020 — thanks, in large part, to COVID — they’ve become a legitimate and even preferred alternative to starting up a full-fledged restaurant. 

Here’s the lowdown on ghost kitchens: what they are, why they’re gaining momentum, and four basic steps to launching your own ghost kitchen. 

What’s a ghost kitchen?

Ghost kitchens are essentially restaurants without the dining space. Their focus is to sell and fulfill online food orders for delivery using third-party apps like Grubhub, UberEats, and DoorDash, or with their own delivery operation. As a result, they typically have no visible storefront.

Because the concept is still evolving, there isn’t a hard-and-fast definition of a ghost kitchen.(It’s also worth noting that the industry hasn’t landed on consistent terminology , so phrases that fall under the “ghost kitchen” umbrella — e.g., virtual restaurants — could mean slightly different things, depending on who you ask.) With that being said, there are a few common ways ghost kitchens can be structured. 

  • Using a shared commissary spaces

These ghost kitchen facilities that are not located within a restaurant, so they’re strictly for delivery-only purposes. Several independent brands may use a shared kitchen facility simultaneously, or there may be multiple in-house brands developed and operated by a single management team. 

  • Launching virtual “spin-off” brands 

Some dine-in restaurants are launching virtual, delivery-only restaurants, and they’re leveraging their current kitchens to do so. As an example: Chicago-based Frato’s Pizza has always made and served pizza to dine-in customers. But recently, the owner has launched four “spin-off” restaurants from the same kitchen, including a milkshake concept and a grilled-cheese concept. While Frato’s continues business as usual, the four virtual restaurants operate as delivery-only. 

  • Renting out restaurant kitchens

Another trend we’re seeing: some restaurants are renting out their own kitchens to accommodate ghost kitchen brands that need space and equipment, creating an additional revenue stream for establishments that may be experiencing lower volume due to Covid.

Why ghost kitchens are appealing in 2020

Ghost kitchens are gaining traction quickly in 2020 for a myriad of reasons — with Covid leading the pack.

Even in pre-pandemic times, the average American orders out at least once a week , while more than 20% of Generation Z gets delivery more than three times a week. Those numbers are only going up as a result of Covid. Plus, restaurants are operating at reduced capacity, and patrons are more cautious about dining out. Ghost kitchens are a way that restaurants can take advantage of the boom in delivery orders without losing money on unused dining space (and all the costs that come with keeping it up).  

Another factor driving the ghost kitchen trend is the rise of the gig economy, in which ghost kitchens can hire freelancers to make deliveries at a fraction of the cost of third-party apps like GrubHub, UberEats, and Postmates. 

Rising real estate prices are also contributing to this trend. Why pay tens of thousands of dollars to open up a dine-in experience when you can rent out a much smaller space and hire delivery drivers for much cheaper?

Pros and cons of ghost kitchens

Here are a few of the pros and cons that both restaurant owners and their customers can expect from ghost kitchens.

  • Low overhead : As we mentioned above, not only is real estate often cheaper, but ghost restaurants don’t have to invest in the costs of hosting a dine-in experience like furniture, decor, and menu printing costs.
  • Faster opening times : Ghost kitchens can simply rent out space in existing facilities, so time-to-launch is dramatically decreased. 
  • Convenience : Delivery-only makes it easy for customers to enjoy restaurant-quality food, especially during the pandemic. 
  • Additional revenue streams : Established restaurants have the opportunity to generate additional revenue by renting out extra kitchen space to third-party ghost kitchen brands, or by launching delivery-only spin-offs from their own kitchen. 
  • Flexibility : Ghost kitchens can adapt quickly as market conditions or customer preferences change. 
  • Additional costs : If you’re an established restaurant adding on a virtual brand, there is an up-front investment involved, should you decide against running your own delivery operation. 
  • Lower-quality customer experience : In the hospitality industry, building customer relationships and loyalty is all about experience. That’s harder to control when you’re running a ghost kitchen. 
  • Brand awareness challenges: Though online visibility can help a restaurant, it also has to compete with the hundreds of other restaurant brands that can be found online. And because they all deliver, this means differentiators (like a prime location) won’t necessarily play into a customer’s decision. 

4 basic steps to setting up a ghost kitchen

Interested in setting up your own ghost kitchen? While it’s simpler, in some ways, than setting up a traditional restaurant, it’s also a relatively new concept — which means there’s a lot of uncharted territory. Here are four things to do if you’re considering launching a ghost kitchen. 

  • Do your research : There aren’t a lot of templates for starting up a ghost kitchen, so you may have to get creative when you’re looking for resources. Seek out advice from teams who have been there, done that and learn from their successes (and mistakes).
  • Define your concept : You don’t have to worry as much about location and ambience, which means your menu is really going to be the star of the show. Who are you competing against? How will you stand out? How will you make your food to-go friendly? 
  • Find your space: When considering where to set up shop, so to speak, location may not matter as much since customers won’t be coming to you. But you do need to think about spaces that are suitable for cooking, whether it’s an existing kitchen space that you rent, a shared space, or your own facility. And if there are going to be multiple vendors using your space, is there ample room for comfortable cooking conditions and the supplies you need to start operation? You’ll also need to think about insurance coverage and safety inspections, among other things. 
  • Create a marketing plan : Once your concept and brand are established, you need to form a marketing plan with a heavy digital focus. Social media , digital ads, and a polished website will all help with this effort.

If you’ve got your heart set on launching a restaurant but are worried about the up-front investment — or if you’re in the business but want to give a new concept a spin: the ghost kitchen model just might be for you.

host ghost kitchen

Keely Hungate

  • September 14, 2020

You might also be interested in...

host ghost kitchen

Rock N’ Roll Sushi Trades Tip Cards for Kickfin’s Digital Tipping Platform

host ghost kitchen

North High Brewing Opens 5 New Locations with the Help of Kickfin

host ghost kitchen

Fifty/50 Restaurant Group Saves Managers 2 Hours Per Shift with Kickfin ​

Get a free demo.

Ever heard of ghost kitchens? These virtual restaurants are changing the delivery industry

host ghost kitchen

The popularity of food delivery services skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bloomberg Second Measure reports that combined sales for meal delivery services grew 162% in April 2020 compared to the previous year. Since then, sales have grown 5% every year.

The growth in popularity of these apps during the pandemic also grew the number of ghost kitchens, some even taking the likeness of celebrities. George Lopez Tacos , Buddy V’s Cake Slice by Buddy Valastro, Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen and HotBox by Wiz Khalifa are just a few of the many ghost kitchens on the market.

Popular YouTuber James Donaldson, also known as MrBeast, launched his ghost kitchen brand MrBeast Burger in December 2020 but in mid-June 2023 announced that he would be moving on from the virtual brand. In early August, Donaldson sued his ghost kitchen partner , Virtual Dining Concepts, over “inedible” food resulting in negative reviews that harmed his reputation. 

What exactly is a ghost kitchen? Dig into the reality of ghost kitchens and how they work.

How much does online food delivery pay? DoorDash and Uber Eats compensation.

What is a ghost kitchen?

A ghost kitchen , also known as a dark kitchen or cloud kitchen, is a digital-only restaurant that is available only on food delivery apps like Postmates, UberEats and GrubHub. These kitchens only offer food items and drinks from online brands, cutting out the storefront and human interaction of traditional eateries. 

In other words, cooks from existing restaurants or kitchen-only spaces prepare food items marketed from another brand that is exclusively sold through third-party, food delivery apps. 

How do ghost kitchens work?

Food from these kitchens can only be received through delivery services, which means that customers will not be able to visit a store-front in person.

However, the physical kitchen does exist in order to make the products. Most commonly, ghost kitchen companies may operate out of existing chain or independent restaurants that want to make extra revenue. Ghost kitchen brands can partner with hundreds of established kitchens across the United States to produce and distribute their products. In exchange, the partners get a small cut of the profit made from the delivery.

MrBeast Burger is one example. Donaldson’s brand opened 300 locations around the United States in its first week. None of the 300 locations were branded as MrBeast Burger restaurants but rather 300 locations where MrBeast Burger food is produced. The burgers and fries were cooked in commercial kitchens of chain restaurants such as Buca di Beppo and Bertucci’s, Restaurant Business Magazine reports .

On the third-party delivery apps that offer food from ghost kitchens, it will not list the restaurant where the food is made. The ghost kitchen brand is listed so customers can order from the exclusive menu from the digital brand. 

Is Uber safe? Addressing safety concerns of passengers and drivers.

How to start a ghost kitchen

These digital-only restaurants are started by small business owners, entrepreneurs, established chains and influences for different reasons. Some use ghost kitchens as a cheaper means of starting their own restaurant, while others make ghost kitchens to create extra revenue for their existing business, BMarko Structures reports .

According to BMarko Structures, the median construction cost to start a traditional restaurant is around $200,000. With a ghost kitchen, that price is cut by around 50-60%. Some may consider renting or purchasing a shipping container kitchen with appliances installed to be the main house of operations for the ghost kitchen. 

Toast, one of the leading POS (point of sale) systems in the United States, outlines the basic necessities to start a ghost kitchen after deciding the concept, hypothetical menu and business model. 

Starting to obtain the same licenses and permits asked of restaurants traditional restaurants is the first important step. Here is a list of some the documents likely required to operate as a food service:

  • Business License
  • Food Service License
  • Employee health Permit
  • Seller’s Permit
  • Zoning Permit

After these documents are obtained, you may consider where you want to produce and distribute the food. Here are some kitchen options that Toast outlines as popular spaces for ghost kitchen operations:

  • Shared kitchens : a licensed and inspected commercial kitchen that is available for rent by the hour, day, week or month. 
  • Dark kitchens : kitchen-only spaces that do not accommodate dine-in customers and focus only on preparing delivery-only food.

If you are looking for more guidance on how to start your own ghost kitchen, you may consider partnering with a ghost kitchen management company. Some of the most successful names in the ghost kitchen game are partnered with Virtual Dining Concepts , CloudKitchens , Nextbite and Ghost Kitchen Brands .

Just Curious for more?

USA TODAY is exploring the questions you and others ask every day. From " Where does salt come from? " to " How to get rid of fruit flies " to " How much water should you drink? ", we're striving to find answers to the most common questions you ask every day. Head to our  Just Curious section  to see what else we can answer.


Get Started

Multi Locations

The #1 choice for native app and web ordering, loyalty, marketing, and third-party order aggregation to help modern restaurant chains grow their online revenue.

1-2 Locations

Fast, simple, and free! Ditch the fees and protect your margins with the online ordering platform built for restaurant operators.

Web & App Ordering

Delight your guests with a beautiful ordering experience

Marketing CRM

Deliver email, push, and sms campaigns from one place

Unmatched design to make your guests' digital experience match what they get in-store

Loyalty & Scan to Pay

Create and grow your cult following

Order Aggregation

No more tablet hell. Streamline your operations

Easy ordering. On time, every time.

Guides & Videos

A collection of marketing and operational best practices

Case Studies

See how our customers use Lunchbox to grow their revenue

Savings Calculator

See how much $$ our customers have saved by using Lunchbox

Compare Lunchbox

See how Lunchbox compares to legacy platforms

A pantry full of videos, ebooks, and insights to help you become a restaurant industry expert.

Partnership overview

Learn about what we offer to our official partners

Join the largest network of food tech integration partners

Earn commission on reselling Lunchbox branded products

Referral Program

Refer a restaurant to Lunchbox and make some hefty $$


See all of our integration partners

Why Lunchbox

Learn about the Lunchbox difference and how we’re supporting the industry.

Stay up-to-date on our latest press releases.

Come work with us!

Brand guidelines for press, event or speaking inquiries.

Lunchbox kitchen couture

Food Tech Council

Our passionate and powerful Food Tech Council.

Lunchbox SMB

Lunchbox Enterprise

Ghost Kitchens: History & Predictions for the Future of Restaurant Types

ghost kitchens

BY Corinne Watson

SEP 24, 2021

host ghost kitchen

Ghosts Kitchens: Timeline, Examples, Virtual Restaurants, And FAQs

According to research done by CBRE, About 111 million people in the U.S. used an online ordering app for food in 2020—a 17% increase from 2019. Online food ordering app revenue is expected to increase 62% by 2025. That’s a big chunk of the market, and a good opportunity for business owners to put a magnifying glass on their ordering and delivery experience.

Imagine if ordering, delivering, and marketing was all you had to worry about. That’s the case for the 1,500+ ghost kitchen operators across the US.

Ghost kitchens have been around in varying forms for years and share some DNA with the commissary kitchens that have aided caterers and bakeries for decades. Essentially, they are restaurant kitchens entirely detached from restaurants.

In ghost kitchens, there’s no host stand, no seating, no customer-facing space. Just a kitchen, some tablets for orders, and a pick-up window for delivery drivers.

Ghost kitchens take on many different operating models.

Sometimes, there are multiple kitchen units within one warehouse or industrial building.

Sometimes they’re in a shipping container or trailers. From the outside, you would have no idea that there were kitchens inside of them.

And sometimes, a ghost kitchen operates out of an existing restaurant’s kitchen.

Ghost restaurants are built for delivery only. In a dining landscape where delivery is king, especially coming out of the global pandemic where restaurants rely on delivery to survive, ghost kitchens have boomed over the past year. So let’s dig in: what is a ghost kitchen, and what’s next for them?

The Rise of Ghost Kitchens: A Timeline

Delivery is the fastest-growing segment of the restaurant industry—outpacing dine-in by 300% since 2016 . It’s a $35 billion industry, with the potential to grow to $1 trillion by 2030. 

More than half of all Americans order delivery at least once a week—a third twice a week. And this was all in motion before the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, it was the only way for many to eat food from a restaurant, and the only way restaurants could survive.

The tracks were laid before, but COVID-19’s devastating impact on the restaurant business has us looking full-steam ahead towards the future of dining: ghost kitchens and virtual restaurants . 

These changes to the traditional model have predated COVID-19, but the pandemic’s impact on the industry has made one thing clear: delivery is not only here to stay, it’s growing.

Separating the kitchen from the restaurant has created an infrastructure ripe for innovation and experimentation, and one that people are placing big bets on:

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into CloudKitchens , which is building facilities in the U.S, U.K., and India. 

Kitchen United and Zuul Kitchens are creating virtual food halls in cities like New York and Chicago, where diners can order from multiple local favorites at once. 

Companies like Miami-based Reef Kitchens are taking it modular, building kitchens in shipping containers that can find homes in parking lots.

Traditional quick-serve restaurants are taking note too, using ghost kitchens to expand their well-known brands.  Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s are experimenting with virtual locations in cities across the country, using 1st party services like Lunchbox or 3rd party services like Doordash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub for food delivery.

Restaurants known for fine dining are making the pivot, too. SBE — known for its restaurants with chefs like Jose Andres, Wolfgang Puck, and Masaharu Morimoto — is now in the virtual restaurant game. The hospitality stalwart has launched hundreds of locations of delivery-only concepts like Umami Burger, Sam’s Crispy Chicken, and Krispy Rice.

Celebrities like Rachael Ray and Wiz Khalifa got in on the delivery game in early days, with Rachael Ray to Go and HotBox launching in the second half in 2019. Since then, dozens of celebrities have launched ghost kitchens to create national virtual chains seemingly overnight.

Wiz Khalifa’s HotBox virtual restaurant.

Virtual restaurants can also take a different form as an extension of an existing restaurant. Bloomin’ Brands has found success with this model, adding the virtual fried chicken concept Tender Shack to their portfolio. When a diner orders, it’s cooked and sent from existing locations of Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

These restaurants of the future are taking advantage of the significantly reduced costs of operating to expand into new markets and launch brand new concepts.

5 Ghost Kitchen Examples

There are thousands of virtual restaurants in the US, with the majority of them hosted by these top ghost kitchen providers.

C3 by SBE is a ghost kitchen incubator powering well-known brands like Krispy Rice, Umami Burger and Sam's Crispy Chicken. C3 stands for “ Creating Culinary Communities ”.

In April 2021, C3 launched the CITIZENS GO app, designed as an alternative to third-party delivery platforms. Partnering with Lunchbox , the app let shoppers order from more than 200 ghost kitchens and brick-and-mortar restaurants in one place for the first time ever.

C3 has big plans to go global and expand to an additional 150 brands by the end of 2021 through a partnership with Kitobi , a cloud kitchen platform.

Krispy Rice. Image via Robb Report

2. CloudKitchens.

Launched by Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick, CloudKitchens is an international network of ghost kitchens with over 40 locations. CloudKitchens operates in a turnkey way, marketing that restaurants can open a ghost kitchen in just one month.

CloudKitchens renovates existing buildings to add commercial kitchens, and then leases spaces in those kitchens to restaurants who then use the space to sell via delivery apps. 

3. Kitchen United. 

With six locations across the United States in cities like Scottsdale, Austin, and Chicago, Kitchen United is known for their ‘multi-restaurant ordering’ — the ability to deliver foods from multiple restaurants in one delivery order (like the CITIZENS GO app from C3).

Each of their kitchen centers (locations) hosts 10+ different virtual kitchens, most of which are single-location restaurants, but there are some national brand offerings too (like White Castle).

The Kitchen United location in Austin, Texas. Image Source: Arnold Wells for Austin Business Journal

REEF’s Neighborhood Kitchens take over existing real estate (in a reported 4,500 different locations) to build out ghost kitchen operations.

REEF’s NBRHD Restaurant Development Program is a $1.25 million development program to help local restaurants scale their delivery business. It piloted in Vancouver earlier this year, with other cities rumored to be opening up soon. In the Development Program, REEF works hand-in-hand with selected restaurant brands to create menus, train culinary staff, and create marketing campaigns.

REEF Kitchens location. Image source: Restaurant Business

More of a technology platform than a ghost kitchen operator, Zuul works with ghost kitchens, restauranteurs, food halls, hospitality groups, virtual brands, and catering companies to simplify delivery operations. The Zuul Market in NYC features food from 8 local restaurants.

Zuul’s Manhattan, NY Location. Image source: Food on Demand

6. Kitopi. 

With 60+ locations in 5 countries, Kitopi was one of the first ghost kitchen providers to go global. Over 200 restaurants use Kitopi to handle the production and delivery of their food. Restaurants can get launched in one of Kitopi’s ‘smart kitchens’ in just 14 days.

Kitopi HQ. Image source: The Spoon

Virtual Restaurants and Ghost Kitchens: What’s the Difference? 

The terms ‘virtual restaurant’, ‘ghost kitchen’, and ‘cloud kitchen’ are thrown around daily by news, press, restaurants, and the industry at large. So what’s the difference? 

Simply put: A virtual restaurant is a restaurant that runs out of a ghost kitchen. A cloud kitchen is the same thing as a ghost kitchen. 

To break it down a bit more:

What is a virtual restaurant? 

A virtual restaurant is a restaurant that runs out of a ghost or cloud kitchen. The only way to order from a virtual restaurant is via an app or third-party delivery platform. All virtual restaurants offer pick-up, and some offer dine-in. Virtual restaurants are restaurants of the digital age—they exist solely on our devices via apps and delivery services. Some virtual restaurants last for a limited time — sometimes coinciding with an event, a product launch, or a concert — but most virtual restaurants are permanent. 

What is a ghost kitchen? 

A ghost kitchen is a commercial kitchen that offers food from different restaurants. Some ghost kitchens have just one restaurant, with others having hundreds. It depends on the size. 

Ghost kitchen vs cloud kitchen: What is a cloud kitchen?

A cloud kitchen is the same concept as a ghost kitchen. Some cloud kitchens handle more fulfillment and logistics for restaurants, but essentially ‘cloud kitchen’ and ‘ghost kitchen’ are different marketing terms used to describe the same thing. Sometimes they’re called dark kitchens, too.

5 Virtual Restaurant Examples

3 years ago, there were no virtual restaurants. Now, there are thousands across the globe. Since virtual restaurants have a quicker start-up time and far fewer operational complexities compared to brick-and-mortar restaurants and franchises, it is easier for everyday entrepreneurs to start their own restaurant. 

Here are a few of the most well-known virtual restaurants.

1. MrBeast Burger. 

The virtual restaurant that started it all — MrBeast Burger launched in November 2020 and is now in over 900 locations in the USA and Europe. Robert Earl’s Virtual Dining Concepts launched MrBeast Burger, and they’re responsible for multiple other celebrity-backed virtual kitchens like Tyga’s Bites and Mariah’s Cookies . 

MrBeast Burger Image source: Restaurant Business

2. NASCAR Refuel. 

Another excellent example of a ghost kitchen is NASCAR Refuel , which premiered at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 in Daytona, Florida in August 2021. With fan-favorites like the Daytona Dog , NASCAR Refuel is the go-to virtual restaurant for fans who miss the raceday experience (or anyone who loves delicious stadium food).

NASCAR Refuel Image Source: Food Management

3. Krispy Rice. 

Krispy Rice is delicious sushi and rice dishes served up from C3 and SBE in US locations from coast to coast. We might see Krispy Sushi and other C3 restaurant foods served up in TGI Fridays, Hooters, and PF Changs soon due to an August 2021 announcement that TriArtisan Capital private equity investment firm invested $10 million into C3 .

Image Source: Krispy Rice via Eater Austin

4. Sam’s Crispy Chicken.

Sam’s Crispy Chicken is another restaurant brought to you by C3. C3 plans to announce other new concepts this year, including collaborations with internationally celebrated chefs Masaharu Morimoto, Dani Garcia, Dario Cecchini and Katsuya Uechi.

Image Source: Sam’s Crispy Chicken

5. It’s Just Wings

It’s Just Wings operates out of 1,050 Chili’s and Maggiano’s locations and is available for pick-up and delivery. It’s Just Wings recently made headlines for announcing that it partnered with 125 college football stars to help promote the restaurant at college campuses.

Image Source: It’s Just Wings

Frequently asked questions about ghost kitchens

Ghost kitchens are a totally new concept — so it makes sense that there are a lot of ifs, ands, and buts about this new type of restaurant. 

Are ghost kitchens illegal? 

No, ghost kitchens are not illegal. Ghost kitchen operators must have a corporate formation (LLC or similar) and the permits and licenses you need to operate a restaurant. All health standards and codes that a city’s health and planning department holds to traditional restaurants are also applicable to ghost kitchens. Many ghost kitchens handle permits and code management on behalf of virtual restaurants as part of the agreement and fees for leasing the ghost kitchen space. 

Why is it called a ghost kitchen?

Ghost kitchens lack a customer-facing brick-and-mortar restaurant, which makes them somewhat ‘invisible’ compared to traditional restaurants. Hence, the term ‘ghost’ came about. There’s nothing spooky about ghost kitchens, unless you’re frightened by super-fast delivery speeds. 

How much does it cost to run a ghost kitchen? 

Ghost kitchens can start up for as little as $20,000, according to CBRE . This is very low compared to traditional restaurants, which usually cost millions of dollars to build, open, and operate. The cost of running a ghost kitchen depends on a lot, like whether you’re using a multi-operator ghost kitchen or a single operation. Depending on that choice, you’re paying for rent, labor, and operating costs. The type of food you sell also matters, of course. Sushi is more expensive than cheese fries.

Check Out This Guide:


Why do ghost kitchens fail? 

Ghost kitchens must rely solely on advertising and food quality to survive. There is no restaurant experience to help ‘sell’ the food to customers. Ghost kitchens must have top-notch photography, advertising, and digital presence. Another major challenge of virtual-only kitchens is the high cost of labor. Some ghost kitchen operators like Kitchen United offer labor as part of their package to restaurants, which comes at a higher price-point but is a bit easier for operators who want to hand off everything to a third party.

Ghosts kitchens are here to meet customer demand

The COVID-19 pandemic has supercharged demand for Ghost Kitchens. The Ghost Kitchen market share of total restaurant sales in the U.S. is expected to reach 21% within the next four years .

Ghost kitchens are a great alternative to brick-and-mortar restaurants, especially as we move into a digital age where consumers are on-the-go and tend to favor takeout and delivery over in-person dining.

Interested in learning more about how Lunchbox can help simplify your Ghost Kitchen operations?

→ Book a demo to learn more

Restaurant Online Ordering System

Restaurant App Ordering

Restaurant Web Ordering

Restaurant Order Aggregation

Restaurant Marketing

Restaurant Catering Online Ordering System

Restaurant Loyalty Program Software


Related Content

host ghost kitchen


Kat Cole: Power Lunch Episode 2

host ghost kitchen


Loyalty Programs: Building Customer Love from 1 to 100

host ghost kitchen


What is In-House Delivery and Why Do You Need It?

host ghost kitchen

10 Not-So-Obvious Food Photography For Restaurants Tips

host ghost kitchen

Michael Lastoria: Power Lunch Episode 4

host ghost kitchen

Get the Full LB Guide to Ghost Kitchens

host ghost kitchen

Ghost Kitchen Network

Find your perfect ghost kitchen

Browse all of the ghost kitchens that are currently available to find your perfect match.

host ghost kitchen

Ghost Kitchen Network is a dedicated resource for helping restaurants like yours get matched with a ghost kitchen based on your needs. Find out more about why and how we do it.

who we help

Whether you’re just launching your restaurant or a national brand, we’re able to help you find a ghost kitchen that fits your needs.

National Chains

Foodprenuers, food trucks, local restaurants, delivery only restaurants.

host ghost kitchen

Elena Miles

Why ghost kitchen network.

Ghost Kitchen Network makes it easy as 1-2-3 to find a ghost kitchen that fits your needs. We curate the top ghost kitchens around the U.S. and Canada so you don’t have to.

  • Vetted and approved kitchens
  • North America's largest source of available kitchens
  • Flexible options for any business

Tell us the type of cloud kitchen that you’re looking for such as the equipment, location, and capacity.

Using the information that you provide us, we’ll match you with ghost kitchens in your area.​

Review the cloud kitchens that you’ve matched with and book a tour with the ones that you’re interested in.

What People Say

Don’t take our word for it, find out what others are saying about using us to find their perfect ghost kitchen.

host ghost kitchen

“Ghost Kitchen Network helped me quickly find a ghost kitchen that suited our needs in record time.”

host ghost kitchen

“Ghost Kitchen Network is great! They helped me book tours of kitchens based on my exact needs all within the same day.”

Bill Edward

host ghost kitchen

“They have a HUGE network of ghost kitchens that made finding one for my restaurant. I can’t recommend them enough.”

The Kitchen Spot

  • Kitchen Equipment
  • Design Build
  • Paper & Disposables / Chemicals
  • Parts Services Installation
  • Used Equipment
  • Takeout & Delivery Supplies
  • Commercial Cooking Equipment
  • Refrigeration & Ice Machines
  • Commercial Kitchen Food & Drink Prep
  • Front Of The House
  • Back Of The House
  • Admiral Craft
  • Advance Tabco
  • American Metalcraft
  • Amerikooler
  • American Panel
  • Anchor Hocking
  • Bakers Pride
  • Beverage-Air
  • Carter-Hoffmann
  • Chef Revival
  • Chef-Master
  • Continental Refrigerator
  • Cooper-Atkins
  • Crown Steam
  • Dexter-Russell
  • Dispense-Rite
  • Doyon Baking
  • Grindmaster
  • Hamilton Beach
  • Ice-O-Matic
  • Imperial Brown
  • International Tableware
  • Janico Manufacturing
  • John Boos & Co.
  • Louis Tellier
  • Magikitch'n
  • Market Forge
  • Moyer Diebel
  • Olympic Storage Company
  • Perfect Fry
  • Piper Products
  • PizzaMaster
  • Robot Coupe
  • Sapphire Manufacturing
  • Spaceman USA
  • Structural Concepts
  • T&S Brass and Bronze Works
  • Thunder Group
  • Toastmaster
  • Tomlinson Industries
  • Vertex China
  • Victorinox Swiss Army
  • Menu Expansion
  • How To Set Restaurant Goals
  • Embracing Earth Month: Energy Efficiency & Sustainability in Restaurants
  • Energy Savings
  • Beginner’s Guide To Opening a Restaurant
  • 5 Ways To Survive the Evolving Restaurant Industry
  • Secrets To Restaurant Survival
  • Outfit Your Restaurant For Food Delivery & Takeout
  • Maximize Food Delivery Services For Your Restaurant Business
  • Guide To Ghost Kitchens
  • Best Practices In Food Safety & Sanitation
  • Water Savings For Restaurants And Commercial Kitchens
  • Outdoor Seating Trends
  • Stainless Steel Commercial Kitchen Fabrication
  • A Designer’s Perspective On Ghost Kitchens
  • How to Maximize Commercial Kitchen Storage Space
  • Equipment Solutions For Small Spaces
  • Fitting Foodservice Into Challenging Spaces
  • Firing Up An Incubator
  • Dining Room Furniture
  • Commercial Refrigeration Buying Guide
  • Commercial Convection Cooking
  • Choosing A Commercial Ice Machine & Ice Trends
  • Commercial Kitchen Ventilation Systems Guide
  • Walk-In Cooler Buying Guide
  • Deep Fryer Buying Guide
  • Pizza Deck Oven Options
  • Equipment Trends For Emerging Chains
  • Commercial Dishwashers
  • Ice Machines: Sizing for Application

Your Guide To Ghost Kitchens

These trendy off-site commercial cooking allies go by many names. Cloud Kitchens, Dark Kitchens, Virtual Kitchens, and the most popular – Ghost Kitchens. If you’re considering the path of off-premise takeout, delivery, or cooking for large catering events, a ghost kitchen is in your view. Whether you partner with a large ghost kitchen third-party operation like Kitchen United, Cloud Kitchens, Uber Eats or Kitopi, or you rent your own space and design it into your ideal ghost kitchen, this model can substantially grow your restaurants margins and revenue.

The Pros & Cons To Ghost Kitchens

The Stats That Back Up The Ghost Kitchen Model

  • According to the NRA, 75% of restaurant operators agree that off-premise dining holds the highest growth opportunities
  • Euromonitor estimates ghost kitchens will grow to over a 1 trillion-dollar global market by 2030
  • Restaurant Dive states that the United States currently has 1,500 ghost kitchens – and growing
  • Statista estimated that the online food market in the United States will be worth $23 billion by 2023

The data shows that ghost kitchens are here to stay. Let’s answer your questions about these innovative money-making machines.

Sign Up For More Great Content In Your Inbox

  • Enter Your Email

What Is A Ghost Kitchen?

A ghost kitchen (dark kitchen, virtual kitchen, cloud kitchen) is a commercial kitchen space that is often rented outside of a dine-in restaurant, that only produces takeout, delivery and catering orders. There are third-party ghost kitchens that many partner with to help execute their delivery and takeout model. Another option would be to invest in your own commercial kitchen space for these types of orders.

As third-party delivery apps like DoorDash and GrubHub continue to grow in the restaurant industry, ghost kitchens become more relevant. Many restaurateurs have adapted and are investing into this off-site model, to alleviate stress in their dine-in establishment.

Types Of Ghost Kitchens:

  • Incubator Kitchens – A commercial kitchen space that is attached to the dine-in kitchen, but still separate from dine-in operations. These are great for specialty cuisine!
  • Commissary Kitchens – A commercial kitchen that is completely separate from normal operations, and is typically rented or shared amongst many restaurants.
  • Kitchen Pods – A commercial kitchen outfitted in a shipping container or smaller space. “Dark Kitchens” came from this style of ghost kitchen.

How Can A Ghost Kitchen Improve My Restaurants Margins?

When you consider a restaurants profitability model, you have to consider the entire dining aspect. When considering start-up costs, things like indoor and outdoor furnishings, table settings, wait staff, extra utilities, and expensive retail spaces add up quickly when investing in the dine-in model. So, when you manage your robust delivery and takeout business alongside your dine-in business, you’re paying for all that extra expense, which hinders your takeout and delivery business growth, and cuts into your margins. Ghost kitchens have a lower operating cost, meaning your product revenue goes further.

Ghost Kitchen Benefits:

  • Less expensive real estate buying or leasing
  • Decreased overhead costs
  • Focusing on one production type – takeout/delivery
  • Less startup costs vs. full scale restaurant

How Do I Start A Ghost Kitchen?

Starting a ghost kitchen will require different steps for those who already operate a restaurant. If you’re a new brand with the intention of only operating a ghost kitchen for delivery and takeout profitability, you’ll have a little more work to do. First, choose your model. Incubator kitchens will have a much different cost and process than a commissary model or rented space. For an incubator kitchen, you’ll need to work with an expert design and build partner to outfit your commercial kitchen. When it comes to your choice in the ghost kitchen model, consider your cuisine. Incubator kitchens, or your personally designed commissary might be the best option for you. Not all shared commercial kitchen spaces offer specialty cooking equipment, like pizza ovens or commercial woks. Typically, they’re designed for the most common menu application, so be sure to understand their equipment package! If you’re finding a commercial kitchen to rent, or building your own new kitchen, you’ll need to follow a few important steps.

Steps To Starting A New Ghost Kitchen:

  • Register your business if you’re just getting started
  • Hire a restaurant design and build service (non-commissary kitchens)
  • Ensure you have your ServSafe Food Handler Certification
  • Obtain kitchen liability insurance
  • Schedule an inspection with a local regulator

How Much Does It Cost To Open A Ghost Kitchen?

It’s clear that ghost kitchens are becoming a more economic, margin friendly business operation for foodservice operators. Where restaurants in highly expensive areas can cost anywhere from $275,000 to $1,500,000 in start-up costs, renting a commissary kitchen can be as low as $20,000. Again, this depends on your model. If you’re renting your own kitchen space for your ghost or virtual kitchen, and investing in the commercial equipment, staff, and disposables needed to operate it, you’re going to have a higher cost in the beginning. The main savings come from dining room, bar and service staff costs.What’s The Downfall Of Investing In A Ghost Kitchen?The profitability model of ghost kitchens speaks for itself – it’s likely this investment will produce cash for your business. But, profitability always comes with hard work, determination, and some capital investment.

Ghost Kitchen Con’s:

  • You’ll be adding a new team and will have to train them.
  • You’ll likely utilize third-party delivery services, which is out of your control.
  • If you don’t have a restaurant already, you’ll have to develop brand awareness.
  • Some food items lose production quality during delivery.
  • Takeout and delivery models can be more susceptible to menu pricing pressure.

These obstacles can be overcome, and if you’ve made it this far along your ghost kitchen discovery path, you’re likely to succeed!Now that you’ve learned the ins and outs of the ghost kitchen model, get connected with an expert to help you build your new commercial kitchen, adapt your current one, or get equipped with the right tools in your commissary space. The Kitchen Spot connects you with restaurant supply and design experts that add value to your restaurant business.

Email Signup

Sign up for promotions and specials on our best in class brands..

  • Phone This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Porch Logo

  • Home Warranty

Your Own Home Ghost Kitchen Startup: Tips for Success

host ghost kitchen

More people than ever are choosing to have their food delivered directly to their doorstep instead of sitting down and eating inside a restaurant. Thanks to a major surge in food delivery demand, “ghost kitchens” are starting to pop up all over the country. A ghost kitchen is a place where a small business or professional chef makes food in one location without a formal dining area. These kitchens don’t provide customers with a physical place to visit and eat. Instead, the food is prepared remotely, then picked up and delivered to customers on-demand. Cloud kitchens are somewhat similar; however, these kitchens have several brands or types of food all made together under one roof, while a ghost kitchen is just one brand and menu. If you’re thinking of going solo and starting your own ghost kitchen at home, read on for some tips and information to help set you up for success.

The Many Benefits of Opening Your Own Ghost Kitchen

host ghost kitchen

If you love to cook, there are many amazing benefits to opening your own ghost kitchen . Here are just some of the perks to starting your successful ghost kitchen business plan.

Less Space is Required

Most delivery-only restaurants use a commercial kitchen to prepare their food, but there’s no seating area. This means you’ll need less square footage and space to cook and prepare the meals you sell. Starting a ghost kitchen eliminates the need for an entire restaurant, which will reduce the overhead cost of renting and maintaining a whole building that must accommodate dine-in customers.

You’ll Be Able to Capitalize on High Demand

The demand for food delivery has been increasing long before the pandemic began. Customers like to have their favorite foods brought right to their door at any hour of the day and at the touch of a button. Because of this surge in demand, ghost kitchen profits are soaring. It’s a great opportunity for you to get in from the ground up so you can cash in on this popular niche and make a profit.

Ghost Kitchens Produce Less Food Waste

Almost 85 percent of food produced from restaurants is thrown away, either by the customer or the kitchen itself. Having a ghost kitchen lets you keep inventory to a minimum, focusing on just a few menu items and a smaller variety of foods. You can also learn to make dishes based on more precise measurements that reduce food waste overall.

A Cost-Saving Business Plan

Running a ghost kitchen means there’s a lot less overhead to contend with. You won’t need to pay front-of-the-house staff or waiters and waitresses. Not only will your staff be smaller, but you won’t need to pay for a massive commercial kitchen along with public restrooms and a dine-in area. This gives you a lot more financial freedom and flexibility. And the best part is that you can start your ghost kitchen at home, saving you even more money.

There’s Less Risk

Starting your own restaurant is rewarding, but it’s also a high-risk business model. As a ghost kitchen owner, you can easily adapt your restaurant menu to meet current demands without changing your name or public menu, which can confuse customers. If you make the food from your own home, there’s even less risk since you won’t lose all of the costs associated with having a traditional brick-and-mortar building.

Kitchen Adaptation: Turning Your Own Kitchen into a Ghost Kitchen

host ghost kitchen

If you think starting this type of business is right for you, here are some tips to run a successful ghost kitchen .

Create the Optimum Cooking Space

Since you’ll be making a lot of food frequently, you’ll need plenty of room to cook and prepare your menu items. An open floor plan is ideal for the best mobility, so you may need to consider remodeling your kitchen to make more room. If you do decide to remodel, set your new kitchen up by creating separate areas based on each function. Maximize your equipment by choosing items that can serve several purposes in one, such as a mixer that you can use for making dough, soup, and salsa. Record the measurements of all the equipment you’ll need to prep, display, store, and refrigerate your food. This will help you determine where each item will go and how much room you need to use it efficiently. You’ll also need to decide whether you plan to have a walk-in or freestanding fridge and freezer. Which one you choose depends on how much square footage you have to work with.

Find and Use Professional Equipment

While professional kitchen equipment costs more, it’s also a wise investment since it’s designed to handle the rigors of heavy-duty use. Put the bulk of your money into the most important items. This should include a range and stovetop, good ventilation, refrigeration and freezer units, mixers, heavy-duty cookware, quality cooking tools, food processors, and a large sink or industrial dishwasher. Make a list and write down the most important items first. This will help you prioritize and ensure that you’re only spending money on equipment that you’ll actually use. Remember, you can always upgrade or purchase more equipment as your business grows.

Adapt Your Space

Remember that you’re going to need to adapt your space at home to accommodate for storing kitchen equipment, stocking food, and packaging your meals for delivery. Consider using open shelving since it provides easy access, and it’s also easier to clean. If you don’t have enough room for a massive fridge and freezer, you can always store your food separately in commercial storage space and then just bring it into the kitchen daily for preparation. This is also a great way to determine just how much food you really need to buy based on demand and how much you actually use per day, week, or month so you can keep an eye on inventory fluctuations.

Install the Right Sink

Kitchens are messy by nature, and they can become even messier in a commercial environment. Ensure that you install a large, deep sink with separate sections for washing and soaking cookware, dishes, and cooking utensils. The larger and deeper the sink is, the easier it will be to clean everything. You should also install a pull-down sprayer that makes removing gunk and stuck-on food easier. Set up a separate area for drying your dishes and cookware so that it’s constantly in rotation.

Don’t Forget Maintenance

Your kitchen equipment will inevitably break down or need repair at some point. If your equipment isn’t working, production will come to a standstill, leading to lost profits and unhappy customers. Make it easier for repairers or your maintenance team to access everything by creating a wide, open space for better access. You can also find some equipment with wheels to move it around as needed. If your repair team can’t get to your equipment, they won’t be able to fix it. Consider designing a modular kitchen so that the equipment can be broken down and moved for repairs.

With a kitchen appliance home warranty , you can know that if any of your covered appliances break down due to normal wear and tear, the cost of repairs or replacements will be covered. This can help you avoid the potentially high cost of repairing or replacing a major kitchen appliance out of pocket.

Remember Proper Air Ventilation

Good ventilation is a must-have for a kitchen, whether it’s a small home kitchen or a large commercial setting. Proper ventilation will promote better indoor air quality and circulation while reducing odors and smoke. Install a heavy-duty range fan and turn it on whenever your team starts cooking, not halfway through the process. Be sure to change the range hood filter often so that it’s doing its job. Some extra fans and air purifiers can also be helpful to keep the kitchen air cool and clean. If you need help installing a range fan or air purifier system, consider hiring a handyman to help you.

Tips For Opening Your Ghost Kitchen Business

ghost kitchen

Now that you know more about the benefits and kitchen adaptation stages, it’s time to look at some steps to get your ghost kitchen business plan started.

Choose Your Niche and Menu

Decide what type of food you want to sell , which will become your specific niche. Do some market research to find out what the most popular delivery foods are currently in your area. Come up with food items with a unique spin rather than traditional items like pizza and burgers. Optimize your food for delivery by cooking items in bulk that can easily be separated and delivered to individual customers. Make sure you create a menu that’s aligned with your brand so that you’re easily recognizable.

Come up with a Business Plan

All successful businesses have a strategic plan in place before they launch. Think about your menu pricing strategy and how you can make the most and best food without spending too much by buying in bulk and sourcing from quality suppliers at a discount. Optimize your goals in terms of volume and profit in advance. Choose a delivery method that works for you, and don’t forget to include labor costs as part of your overall plan. Keep costs like food packaging and delivery fees in mind. since these will affect your bottom line. If you choose in-house delivery, it will cost less, but you’ll also be responsible for managing your drivers. Delivery apps charge a fee, but they also help make the process easier and seamless. Finally, understanding your potential customers’ behaviors, interests, demographics, priorities, and other characteristics through market segmentation is crucial.

Create a Good Marketing Plan

Focus on your marketing strategy to reach as many customers as possible. Start with a creative, eye-catching menu design and packaging. In order to build a virtual brand, you’ll need to develop a good website and have an engaging presence on social media. Make sure your website includes the menu, prices, and a link to the delivery app or a way to contact you directly to place an order. The secret to your website’s structure will be in its templates. There are more than 5,000 free templates in WordPress you can choose from.

Don’t forget to incorporate other marketing strategies like mobile and email marketing, and marketing videos . Regular emails and social media engagement are excellent ways to increase customer loyalty. Hire a professional food photographer to capture your best menu items on film so that your dishes look enticing.

Know the Current Food Safety Laws and Regulations

Although you won’t have a traditional restaurant, you’ll still need to follow all of the latest food safety laws and regulations. Ensure you’re getting the proper permits, including food handling, preparation, and foodservice. While you won’t have to worry about building occupancy permits, you’ll still need to make sure that you’re following current labor and employment laws. Be sure to secure a good liability insurance plan if there’s a fire or someone gets injured while on the job. Always provide proper safety gear and ensure everyone follows the proper food handling and sanitation methods. The rules regarding permits and regulations may vary depending on where you live.

Create a Distribution Strategy

How you deliver your food to customers is part of your ghost kitchen distribution strategy. You can offer direct or indirect customer pick-up where you utilize in-house delivery drivers and staff. Another way to distribute your food is through a third-party delivery app. These apps will send their own drivers to pick up and deliver your food whenever a customer places an order. Sit down and go over the pros and cons of all methods to help you determine which one will work best. Depending on where you are, the strategy will vary based on how easy it is to get food to customers. Most ghost kitchens avoid offering pickup since it can complicate the process, and you’ll also need to have a parking space.

Use the Right Technology

The type of technology you implement will help you streamline your business. Mobile apps and online ordering platforms are the most popular options and make it easy for customers to place their orders virtually without calling. Integrate some social media marketing strategies to improve customer outreach and engagement. You’ll also need some restaurant and food business software such as a POS system to process payments and place orders through a computer system. The POS system should integrate with your website or app to make orders, dispatch deliveries, and retain customers streamlined. A kitchen display system is also a great way to help your staff view and manage orders as they come in. Software that helps you forecast sales and keep track of inventory can also be helpful to improve your bottom line.

Once your company is flourishing and expanding, you will need a fantastic software developer team in order to keep up with the upscaling. This will allow you to concentrate on your expansion efforts rather than being bogged down by technical issues.

If you’re passionate about cooking, consider the ghost kitchen business model. It’s a fun and easy way to make delicious food that you can deliver directly to your customers without the excess overhead. Give the idea of a ghost kitchen a try at home and watch your passion flourish and thrive. 

While most businesses aim for sustainability, startups want to expand as quickly as possible. You must alter your thinking in order to do this. The startup mindset rejects established practices. After you do, your ability to quickly flood the market with your goods will increase.

Read more articles from Maria Jose Meneses

You might also like:

host ghost kitchen

Peckwater brands logo

What are host kitchens (and how are they different from ghost and cloud kitchens)?

Aron Lewis

Host kitchen companies are one of the most popular hospitality trends of the last few years. In fact, Franklin Junction’s CEO, Rishi Nigam, says that “by 2025 greater than 50% of restaurants in this country will be selling multiple brands. By the end of the decade it’ll be 90%”. 

Because host kitchens help commercial kitchens boost their income by allowing delivery-only food companies to use their facilities.

But what exactly is a host kitchen? And how are they different from ghost kitchens or cloud kitchens? 

Don’t worry - in this article, we’ll talk you through the ins and outs of host kitchens. By the end, you’ll know what a host kitchen is, how they work, and why a virtual brand could be a better option. 

What is a restaurant host kitchen?

A host kitchen is an operational kitchen that works with other brands and businesses to prepare and sell third-party food. On the outside, a host kitchen looks like a typical commercial food prep operation. But on the inside, two or more operations are taking place at the same time. 

Let’s say you’re running the kitchen at a hotel restaurant. On a busy night, you’re using about 75% of your kitchen space to prepare, cook, and deliver food to dine-in customers.

So what about the 25% that’s not being used? Surely that’s just wasted potential, right? 

This is where a host kitchen can help . 

You can bring in a delivery-only company to use the remaining 25% of your kitchen space. Before you know it, you’re making some extra income and the delivery-only company has somewhere to prepare their food. 

A host kitchen isn’t just for hotel restaurants. It could be a café, bar, school, hospital ­– anywhere that cooks and prepares food commercially could be a host kitchen. 

How does a host kitchen work?

Host kitchens use existing kitchen facilities to deliver and fulfil the needs of an online food-delivery company. 

In other words, existing kitchens provide the physical space for online menus to be prepared, packaged, and distributed.

The key elements of a host kitchen include:

  • Kitchen space and equipment
  • Digital marketing and branding assets
  • Packaging and ingredients
  • Delivery partners

The host kitchen provides the kitchen space and equipment for the external brand. 

host ghost kitchen

The external brand brings their own staff, ingredients, and packaging (the host kitchen can also provide ingredients depending on what the external brand needs). They then set-up their delivery service from the kitchen and start preparing food for delivery! 

Brand-types for host kitchens

There are two different types of brands available for host kitchens: internal brands and external brands.

Let’s look at these in more detail. 

Internal brands for host kitchens

An internal brand involves operating your own delivery-only food from your own kitchen. If you’ve recently expanded your kitchen space, this is a great option for supplementing your variable income.

As an example, imagine a fried-chicken restaurant launching a second menu of delivery-only wings or chicken burgers. All of this food is sold through third-party delivery platforms like UberEats, Deliveroo, or Just Eat. 

It’s more like operating a virtual brand, which means you create the branding, marketing, packaging, and menus for your own brand. It’s separate from your dine-in business, but it runs from your kitchen. 

Working with a franchise partner (like us at Peckwater - hit 👋) makes this process easier to manage. We take care of all the logistics so you can focus on preparing the food.

Find out more about working with us !

External brands for host kitchens

An external brand is when a host kitchen rents out kitchen space to another operator.

host ghost kitchen

Imagine the same fried chicken restaurant preparing meals for an established chain or a delivery-only wing brand in addition to their own fare. The brand won’t impact your restaurant “storefront” and will operate entirely online, offering delivery-only food.

This is a common solution for smaller pop-up and food-truck operators looking to grow their business at lower costs. 

The benefits of operating a host kitchen

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using a host kitchen: 

  • Increase revenue. One of the most important benefits of operating a host kitchen is the extra revenue you’ll generate. Just think, if you’re able to bring-in extra profits without the need to hire new workers, pay extra rent, or invest in new kitchen capacity – why wouldn’t you? Working in the industry, you’ll know that kitchen space comes at a premium. If you’ve got unused space, you could be sitting on a goldmine.  ‍
  • Invest in your business. Extra profits and revenue means you’ll be able to reinvest in your business, staff benefits, and wages – improving morale and the quality of your food.

host ghost kitchen

  • Reduce costs. In addition to the extra rental income, running a host kitchen can reduce your kitchen costs. For instance, you can use ingredients for both your dine-in restaurant and the food delivery service. This means you can buy more ingredients in bulk at a lower cost, and reduce food waste in the process.   ‍
  • Improve sustainability. Operating a host kitchen is a sustainable model of operating. Instead of using multiple locations with various equipment, you’re reducing the carbon footprint by using a single premises and sharing tools. You’re helping the planet as well as your bottom-line.

How are host kitchens different from ghost and cloud kitchens? 

Although similar, host kitchens aren’t the same as ghost kitchens or cloud kitchens. Let’s take a look at the differences.

  • Ghost kitchens. Unlike a host kitchen, a ghost kitchen (sometimes called a dark kitchen) isn't part of a regular kitchen operation. It’s often called the original ‘delivery-only’ concept because they prepare their food in a kitchen that isn’t open to the public. Instead of operating from a brick-and-mortar restaurant like a host kitchen, they use a kitchen specifically for delivery-only food. 
  • Cloud kitchens. A cloud kitchen is similar to a ghost kitchen, but it franchises the concept. Simply put, it can have numerous brands operating from the same ghost kitchen! 

How to start a host kitchen 

Start by figuring out if a host kitchen is the right path for your business. If you have kitchen space to spare and not enough capacity in your team to utilise it, a host kitchen could be a good way to generate more revenue. 

However, if you have the space and the capacity to create more food, launching a virtual brand might be a better option. 

If you’re not sure whether to use a host kitchen or a virtual brand, reach out to us and we can help! If a host kitchen is the right move for your business, you should now clarify your kitchen capacity. 

For a host kitchen to work, you need to know how much space, ingredients, and resources you have available. Spend some time reviewing these elements to determine exactly how much kitchen capacity you have to incorporate another brand.

How much does it cost to start a host kitchen?

The cost of transforming your business into a host kitchen is usually fairly low. It involves capitalising on an existing infrastructure, meaning it can increase restaurant revenue with low risk and low overheads. 

The exact cost varies based on your existing operations and the type of food-delivery service your host kitchen will offer. 

If you’re launching an internal brand, the costs may be slightly higher as you’ll invest in training, branding, and additional ingredients. 

If you opt for an external brand, you’ll incur little costs for another company using your space to prepare and deliver their food. You might pay a higher amount for your electricity and energy usage, but these costs are likely to be recouped through the additional revenue of running the host kitchen.

Use Peckwater Brands to launch your virtual kitchen today

If you’re thinking about maximising your kitchen capacity and boosting your income, get in touch with the team at Peckwater. We’ll walk you through our process, discuss your existing operations, and help you launch a virtual brand that’ll appeal to your local customers. We can’t wait to hear from you! 

Find out more through our FAQs

Related blogs.

5 benefits of offering food delivery — And why it’s essential for your restaurant

5 benefits of offering food delivery — And why it’s essential for your restaurant

Food delivery is a great way for restaurants (and other food establishments) to generate more income. But is running delivery services for food too much hassle when you’re already managing a restaurant?

How to improve your restaurant’s food hygiene rating

How to improve your restaurant’s food hygiene rating

Having a 5-star food hygiene rating should be the aim of every food franchise.

Adopting a virtual brand? Opening a virtual kitchen is easier than you think

Adopting a virtual brand? Opening a virtual kitchen is easier than you think

It’s no secret that the UK’s hospitality sector suffered greatly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

host ghost kitchen

Let’s get started

About you (uk).

  • Skip to content
  • Accessibility Policy
  • Oracle blogs
  • Lorem ipsum dolor

The latest insights on restaurant technology trends, customer successes, and best practices

  • Delivery and Takeout ,
  • POS Integrations ,

What Is A Ghost Kitchen? (+How to Start Your Own)

host ghost kitchen

As our industry continues to evolve, restaurateurs are rethinking, remodeling, and reevaluating their revenue streams. With delivery–only models becoming more popular – the concept of ghost kitchens is becoming mainstream. Ghost kitchens provide restaurateurs unprecedented flexibility that enable restaurants to maintain and expand their customer base at relatively minimal cost. With no storefront to maintain, no servers to pay, and no décor to worry about, restaurateurs can focus on creating delicious food that customers want to have delivered again and again.

What is a ghost kitchen?

The term ghost kitchen, also known as cloud kitchens, dark kitchens, and virtual kitchens, is not new in concept. Ghost kitchens are commercial grade food preparation facilities that prepare food for delivery only. These locations don’t have a dining area for patrons and are often located in large warehouses or office parks where space is plentiful. In today's climate where, for many, delivery is the only option, ghost kitchens can provide a transition to full delivery without sacrificing food quality and excellent customer service. Whether you run a single storefront or several chain locations, ghost kitchens are an affordable way to manage costs and streamline your online delivery.

How does a ghost kitchen work?

Ghost kitchens are centralized locations equipped to handle commercial food production. These locations can fit dozens of businesses at once and are equipped with state-of-the-art restaurant tech and everything you would find in a commercial grade kitchen. Business owners can then rent out space in the ghost kitchen facility to use as an off-site food prep location for their restaurant. Think of a ghost kitchen like a food court or dining hall where dozens of different restaurants all run their business out of the same location. The only difference is these meals are prepared for delivery-only orders.

Because there is no patronage or foot traffic, ghost kitchens are a smart solution for businesses looking to maintain safety regulations during COVID-19. Any restaurant that plans to use online delivery as their main source of revenue should seriously consider investing in a ghost kitchen. Here’s a look at the different ways your business can incorporate a ghost kitchen into your business model.

What are the advantages of a ghost kitchen?

Ghost kitchens provide flexibility that traditional brick-and-mortar locations do not. Though this new trend is just starting to take off, many business owners are seeing the benefits that ghost kitchens provide. Here’s a look at some key advantages ghost kitchens provide that restaurant owners can take advantage of.

Lower overhead costs

One of the most significant advantages of ghost kitchens is cost reduction. The high overhead costs of opening a storefront can be cost-prohibitive for many restaurateurs. Ghost kitchens allow business owners to save money on rent by moving out of high-cost urban settings and into industrial areas with lower rent. There is no need for expensive decorations or lighting as no customers will ever see the ghost kitchen. This reduced cost model allows restaurateurs to invest in other aspects of their business to accelerate growth and profit. The restaurateur can invest in reaching areas and customers that they had not previously served.

Improved flexibility in restaurant operations

Ghost kitchens allow for the expansion of the business without incurring the cost of all the trimmings required in a customer-facing restaurant. Many restaurants use ghost kitchens to trial new concepts or dishes on special delivery-only menus, expanding their menu offerings, as well as expanding their opening times and locations. Another benefit of a ghost kitchen is the restaurant technology they’re often equipped with. Ghost kitchens use a variety of products to streamline delivery orders, maintain inventory management, and run all point-of-sale transactions from a single location.

What technology is needed to start up a ghost kitchen?

Technology plays a crucial role in ghost kitchens; all orders come from online channels such as websites, mobile apps, or third-party delivery providers. A ghost kitchen requires an integrated technology system for accepting online orders, processing payments and efficient kitchen management.

Point-of-Sale (POS) software

An essential requirement for a ghost kitchen is a point-of-sale (POS) system that accepts orders from multiple channels such as third-party delivery apps and online ordering systems. Having a POS system that can integrate with third-party solutions can increase a restaurant's efficiency since orders no longer have to be manually entered. This saves time and reduces errors leading to a reduction in labor costs.

Inventory and Kitchen Management System

Managing inventory is vital to cutting down on food costs, reducing food waste, and maximizing profitability. By incorporating a smart inventory management system , you can easily track daily stock consumption and order inventory with greater precision. An integrated kitchen display system (KDS) is also critical to optimize kitchen workflow and increase efficiency, food quality, and speed of service. Once an order is received, the KDS is instantly updated, enabling kitchen staff to view order details, prioritize preparation tasks, and receive alerts about ticket times that have exceeded restaurant standards.

Integration Friendly with Delivery Apps

Connecting to delivery apps such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Deliveroo plays an essential role in ghost kitchens. To quickly and seamlessly connect your POS system to delivery apps, you must have an open-integration POS platform . This technology allows businesses to adapt to the ever-changing needs and trends of their customers.

Customer Loyalty Program

Implementing a restaurant loyalty program is a great way to increase repeat business, strengthen brand awareness, and keep customers engaged. Retaining customers has proven to be more valuable and cost-efficient than consistently trying to recruit new diners. Through a loyalty solution , you can deliver targeted offers to customers, manage rewards, and offer guests self-service tools to review their rewards activity. Ghost kitchens allow flexibility and diversification. They enable businesses to reduce their highest costs (labor) while providing room for growth and expansion. As the industry continues to evolve, ghost kitchens offer stability and have proven reliable for restaurants looking to grow.

Looking forward with Oracle

Check out our complete guide to ghost kitchen technology or speak with one of our product experts. Or reach out to an Oracle product expert today to ask about maximizing your move to the cloud and sustainably introduce innovation. Learn more about how Oracle can help , contact us directly by phone: US: +1 866-287-4736; UK: +44 207 5626 827; AU: 1300 366 386; LAD: 52 559 178 3146)

Vice President, Global F&B Solution Engineering

As vice president of global sales engineering for the Oracle Food and Beverage business unit, Tim Brown leads an international team of experienced technical sales consultants dedicated to devising and deploying pioneering IT solutions that accelerate innovation for F&B customers. Based in the UK, Tim orchestrates his team of Oracle industry experts – tapping their insights and “best practices” gained from around the world – to fulfill the business unit’s mission: Help F&B customers create exceptional guest experiences, minimize IT complexity and reduce cost. Leveraging nearly 30 years of hospitality experience, Tim’s expertise lies in assisting global, regional and country-specific enterprises capitalise on Oracle Food and Beverage offerings, including cloud-based solutions, hardware, and digital strategies that optimise all facets of F&B operations, from front of house to the back office.

Previous Post

Simphony Essentials – Technology for Essential Restaurant Operations

What is a secret menu & how to implement one.

  • Analyst Reports
  • Cloud Economics
  • Corporate Responsibility
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Security Practices
  • What is Customer Service?
  • What is ERP?
  • What is Marketing Automation?
  • What is Procurement?
  • What is Talent Management?
  • What is VM?
  • Try Oracle Cloud Free Tier
  • Oracle Sustainability
  • Oracle COVID-19 Response
  • Oracle and SailGP
  • Oracle and Premier League
  • Oracle and Red Bull Racing Honda
  • US Sales 1.800.633.0738
  • How can we help?
  • Subscribe to Oracle Content
  • © 2023 Oracle
  • Privacy / Do Not Sell My Info

Retail | How To

How to Start a Ghost Kitchen in 13 Steps

Published March 9, 2023

Published Mar 9, 2023

Mary King


Ray Delucci

WRITTEN BY: Ray Delucci

1. Create Your Concept

  • 2. Incorporate & Set Up Your Business

3. Brand Your Business

4. find a location.

  • 5. Get Permits, Licenses & Insurance
  • 6. Raise Funds

7. Take Mouthwatering Food Photos

  • 8. Decide Ordering, Payment & Delivery

9. Consider Additional Software

10. source suppliers.

  • 11. Hire & Train Staff

12. Market Your Ghost Kitchen

13. go live.

  • Pros & Cons

Bottom Line

Ghost kitchens, delivery-only restaurants that rely on third-party delivery platforms or other online ordering sites for sales, have become a major force in the food industry. They drive sales for food businesses and give customers more food variety. With no physical space for customers to dine, ghost kitchens have generally low overhead costs and are relatively inexpensive to start ( $20,000–$60,000 on average compared to $40,000–$200,000 for food trucks, for example).

You can run an independent ghost kitchen from a freestanding commercial kitchen space, a shared commercial kitchen, or sublease space from an existing restaurant.

Learning how to start a ghost kitchen is pretty simple. Let’s walk through the steps.

The first step to getting your ghost kitchen off the ground is choosing a concept. Your ghost kitchen concept is, essentially, your menu and brand name. Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, ghost kitchens’ names and menus need to be optimized to perform well in online searches.

When thinking of your concept, your goal is to hone in on a niche product that you can execute extremely well. Keep your menu streamlined and targeted to consumers looking for that exact product. A chicken wing concept is more likely to attract repeat orders with a name like Wing King rather than Third Street Bistro.

There are a couple of steps to creating your ghost kitchen concept.

Research your customer

Knowing your customer base and what they like to eat is key when creating your concept. Are you in a college town? Or do you offer food in a high-income, family-oriented community? Before settling on a concept, you should understand what customers are looking for, their lifestyle choices, and their price point.

Consider travel

All food from ghost kitchens travels to the customer. Consider the distance your food will likely travel and the time it will take to make the journey. For example, in a busy city, it may take twice as long for your food to travel short distances at the height of the dinner rush. So, think about foods that stand up to transport. Pizzas and wings are popular options for this reason. Curries, empanadas, and chicken sandwiches are also excellent choices.

Draft your menu

Create a group of dishes that will travel well and appeal to your likely customers. If you rely on third-party ordering and delivery platforms, you don’t need to worry about designing a menu layout at this point; the sites all have standard templates. On the other hand, if you’ll be using your own online ordering website, you’ll need to design a menu layout later.

Name your ghost kitchen

Your ghost kitchen name should be catchy, be easy to read on a page of search results, and mention the type of food on your menu. To get your creative juices flowing, check out our restaurant name generator .

2. Incorporate Your Business & Set Up A Bank Account

Once you’ve settled on a concept and a name, you’ll need to get some business bits out of the way. If you are adding a ghost kitchen as an additional revenue stream to an existing restaurant, you can skip this and move to step 3. But if you are operating as a new, independent ghost kitchen, you’ll need to incorporate so that your business can be licensed and insured.

  • Incorporating your Business
  • Setting Up Your Business Bank Account

There are several types of business structures; the most common are:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • S corporation
  • Corporation

Most ghost kitchens will find that an LLC is the best fit since it protects your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit or bankruptcy. If you plan to pay yourself more than $20,000 per year from your ghost kitchen, designating your LLC as an S corp may also be a good idea. You can explore other business structures in more detail by checking out our guide to choosing a business structure .

You can find all the forms you need to register your LLC on your state’s official business registration website. The costs range from around $50 to $500, depending on where you are located. If you find your state’s website confusing or tricky to navigate, you can also use legal sites like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer to guide you through the process.

For step-by-step guidance, see How to Set up an LLC using LegalZoom .

You need a business bank account to receive payments from third-party platforms or payment processors and to pay suppliers. You can start by inquiring at the bank that handles your personal accounts or look for a bank that caters to small businesses. For step-by-step instructions, see our guides How to Open a Business Bank Account and The Best Small Business Checking Accounts .

Now that you have some of the dry business stuff out of the way, it’s time to get creative. Your ghost kitchen needs an eye-catching logo that is easy to read in search results and will look good printed on bags, stickers, and to-go containers. You don’t have to be a creative genius yourself; you can hire freelance designers easily via websites like Fiverr and Upwork.

Screenshot of Quick Search For Ghost Kitchen

A quick search for “ghost kitchen logo” on Fiverr yields portfolios from several eye-catching designers.

You can find freelancers in virtually every price range, but you should plan to spend anywhere from $50 to $400 for a logo design. For ghost kitchens, getting a complete brand kit is also a good idea. A brand kit typically comes with multiple copies of your logo that are optimized for various social media platforms, printed media, and website use. A brand kit for a ghost kitchen might also include stickers for sealing to-go bags, business cards, and menu designs that you can use in social media ads. Brand kits tend to be pricey, but you can generally find them for around $350 to $800, depending on the designer’s skill level.

Ghost kitchens can be housed in freestanding, independent delivery-only kitchens, shared commercial kitchen spaces, or subleased restaurant kitchens. Freestanding, delivery-only kitchens are the most expensive. You’ll need to buy all of your equipment and secure all required licenses, and you may need to secure building permits.

Shared commercial kitchen spaces are easier to find in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic encouraged a boom in commercial kitchen construction, and ghost operators can now find spaces in co-working kitchens built especially for ghost operations by CloudKitchens , Reef , and Kitchen United . You can also find general commercial kitchen spaces in your area by checking sites like the Kitchen Door and Commercial Kitchen for Rent.

Suppose commercial kitchens are filling up in your area. In that case, you can reach out to restaurants that operate during limited hours (breakfast only, dinner only, etc.) and ask if they would be interested in subletting their kitchen to you during the off-hours. Shared spaces offer one benefit that freestanding kitchens do not: they are often all set with the DOH on many of the rules considering owning a food operating space.

  • Freestanding
  • Commercial Kitchen
  • Subleased Restaurant

5. Get Permits, Licenses & Insurance

Like any restaurant, your ghost kitchen will need several permits and licenses from your local fire, health, and tax authorities. Some permits are tied to the building itself and require site inspections. If you operate your ghost kitchen from a new, freestanding, independent location, you’ll need to obtain these.

If, however, you sublease from an existing restaurant or lease space in a shared commercial kitchen, you’ll want to verify that the kitchen has the proper permits in place before laying down rent and security deposits. On the other hand, if you are adding a ghost concept to your existing restaurant, your existing licenses should cover your ghost operation.

Additionally, your space will be inspected and graded by the local health department and you’ll need HACCP ( Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point ) plans and other food and employee safety requirements before operating. Many states require a manager on site to have a food safety manager’s certification, and you need an established system for food safety monitoring and traceability.

  • Typical Licenses Ghost Kitchens Need
  • Insuring your Ghost Kitchen
  • Business license: This license comes from your state or county and authorizes your business to operate in your location. Prices vary from state to state.
  • Employer identification number (EIN) : This number is given by the IRS and used to file your federal business taxes. There is no charge to obtain an EIN, and you can find directions and forms on the IRS website .
  • State tax ID: This is your state’s version of an EIN. This number can be found through your local state government, or use the Small Business Administration’s directory to locate your state’s appropriate website.
  • Sales tax license : This license allows your business to purchase wholesale goods tax-free.
  • Food Manager’s certification: Most states require that any business serving food to the public have a food service manager’s certificate. You’ll need this even if you sublease space from a commercial kitchen. The certification requires you to take an in-person or online course and pass a test. You take the course and test through ServSafe; the cost is $179 for the course and test combined.
  • Food Handler’s license: In many states, any employee who handles food must have a food handlers certificate. Like the Manager’s Certificate, this document requires the worker to take a class (usually around two hours) and pass a test. Your staff can take the course and test online or in person via ServSafe; the cost is $15 to $18.

The licenses required can vary by location. If you are opening a new, freestanding ghost kitchen and unsure about which licenses are required in your area, consider hiring an online legal service for help. For example, Incfile offers a research package that finds the necessary licenses for your business type in your location and includes all the paperwork you need to file, along with instructions. Pricing for Incfile’s Business License Research Package is $99.

Like all small businesses, ghost kitchens need insurance to cover them in case of accidents, food-borne illness, or employee injury. Suppose you lease your ghost kitchen from a shared commercial kitchen or sublease from an existing restaurant. In that case, you will likely be asked to provide proof of your liability insurance (and workers’ comp if you have employees).

At a minimum, most ghost kitchens need:

  • General Liability: this type of insurance protects you in the case of a third-party driver injuring themselves on your premises, as well as from Property damage and claims brought by nonemployees. Pre-existing restaurants likely already have a general business liability policy but should check with their provider to ensure that adding a ghost kitchen is covered in their current policy.
  • Workers’ Comp: If you have employees, you will be required by law to have workers’ comp insurance to cover medical bills and lost wages if an employee injures themselves at work.
  • Commercial Auto or Hired Not Owned Policy : If you employ a team of delivery drivers, you will need a commercial auto policy if they drive company-owned vehicles. If your drivers use their personal vehicles, you will need a “hired not owned” policy to cover your business if these drivers get in an accident during work hours.

6. Raise Funds (If Needed)

Ghost kitchens are generally a low-cost affair— $20,000 to $60,000 depending on how much of a premium kitchen you build out. If that is outside your budget, you’ll need to raise funds. Crowdfunding is a great option, as is reaching out to friends and family for contributions or loans. If you plan to approach a bank for a small business loan, you should create a business plan to strengthen your loan application.

Most ghost kitchens are housed within existing commercial kitchen spaces, so it is entirely possible to open a ghost concept without building or renovating a kitchen space. However, many ghost kitchens may discover that they need additional storage, especially if the business is busy. For example, if your chicken wing concept takes off, you may need to purchase additional freezers or reach-in refrigerators to hold enough stock for weekend rushes. If you work in a shared commercial kitchen like CloudKitchens, you may also need to supply your own equipment.

Mouthwatering food photos are an absolute requirement for ghost kitchens. To encourage new orders, your food needs to stand apart from competitors on the same ordering site. It is a good idea to hire a professional food photographer to assist. Costs range from $500 to $50,000, depending on your market and the photographer’s popularity.

You don’t need a photo of every item on your menu; great images of your top five to 10 items are usually enough to get started. Prioritize photos of signature dishes, dishes that turn the best profit for your business, and partnerships with other brands.

host ghost kitchen

(Source: Unsplash)

Close-up of a sushi roll platter on a table

The lowest-cost option, of course, is to take the photos yourself. If this is your only option, keep these food photography tips in mind:

  • Choose a simple background: Nothing should distract from your food. When in doubt, a white plate on a bright background is a good idea.
  • Focus on the food: Sides of sauce and garnishes are fine, but for your online ordering menu, you don’t want extra items like cutlery, wine glasses, and hands in the shot.
  • Use even lighting: Good lighting does a lot to make a dish look appetizing. If you don’t have access to lighting equipment, photograph your food under natural light, diffused with parchment paper (which any kitchen should have on hand).

If your menu is filled with common comfort foods, you might be tempted to use stock images. If your finished dish doesn’t look like the image, however, your customers may be disappointed, and you may get many complaints and requests for refunds. Your food images should look like your actual finished dishes—and they should look as good as possible.

8. Decide Your Ordering, Payment & Delivery Strategy

There are three basic ways to accept online orders and payments and deliver your food: third-party platforms, direct internal systems, or a hybrid strategy. One of the most compelling aspects of a ghost kitchen business is extreme flexibility. You can start with one ordering and delivery strategy—say, relying on third-party platforms exclusively—and shift to another as your business grows.

The most straightforward online ordering, payment, and delivery strategy for fledgling ghost kitchens is to sign up with third-party platforms like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats. The platforms handle your online orders, process payments, send delivery drivers, then deposit your portion of the revenue into your business bank account. Like many small business solutions, third-party platforms have pros and cons , though.

  • Third-Party Platform
  • Direct Online Ordering and Delivery
  • Hybrid Strategy

Signing Up With Third-party Platforms

Signing up for third-party platforms is easy, and the contracts are nonexclusive. Most ghost kitchens rely on several third-party delivery platforms to boost their visibility. You can list your ghost kitchen on every third-party platform that operates in your location. When you sign up with DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, Uber Eats, Caviar, or others, you will be prompted to enter your restaurant information, like hours and phone number, along with your menu and sometimes menu photos.

To speed the signup process, you’ll need to have a few things handy:

  • Your location address, phone number, and email address
  • A PDF copy of your menu or a web link to your menu
  • Business bank account information

You start by navigating to the platform site and finding the area designated for “merchants” or “partner restaurants.” Most platforms’ signup pages operate similarly, so let’s take a look at DoorDash as an example:

Screenshot of Doordash Homepage

First, navigate to the Partner sign up page from the DoorDash homepage. (Image from DoorDash)

Screenshot of Doordash Plans

The signup screen will prompt you to choose a plan; either Basic, Plus, or Premier. (Image from DoorDash)

Screenshot of Doordash Sign Up Step 2

After choosing a plan, you will be prompted to select your preferred hardware for receiving orders. (Image from DoorDash)

Screenshot of Doordash Sign Up Step 3

Once you have selected your hardware, you will be prompted for your menu, location hours, number of locations, and business type. (Image from DoorDash)

Screenshot of Doordash Virtual Online Only

Ghost kitchens should select “Virtual/Online Only” as their business type. (Image from DoorDash)

Screenshot of Doordash Sign Up Step 4

You’ll next be prompted to enter your business bank account information and confirm that you agree to DoorDash’s Terms and Conditions. (Image from DoorDash)

Screenshot of Doordash Merchant Portal Step 5

Once your sign-up is complete, you’ll receive an email with a link to your DoorDash Merchant portal. (Image from DoorDash)

Screenshot of Doordash Dashboard Detailed

From the Merchant portal, you can view your sales, edit your menus and business hours, and explore other data. (Image from DoorDash)

Most third-party platforms grow so quickly that they cannot maintain an accurate list of all the ZIP codes they service. In most cases, you’ll have to begin the signup process to see if the app operates in your area. However, once you enter your business address, the system will generally let you know if its service is unavailable in your location.

Recently, third-party platforms like DoorDash and Grubhub have carved out varying levels of delivery service. On those platforms, ghost kitchens can choose to use the sites only for online ordering and handle deliveries with an in-house driver team. Alternatively, ghost kitchens that accept online orders and payments via their own online ordering site can hail third-party drivers on-demand for a flat rate per order. Some sign-up sites will prompt you to choose delivery preferences as well.

Setting Up Direct Online Ordering & Delivery

Setting up direct online ordering and delivery is more involved than signing up with third-party delivery platforms, but not by much. We’ll walk you through the process using Square Online. It is a good fit for ghost kitchens because it integrates with Square’s POS, includes online payment processing, and is free to use when you create a Square account. All you pay are the card processing fees. There are additional fees for delivery, which we’ll explore in detail below.

Screenshot of Square Log In

First, you’ll need to create a Square account. (Image from Square)

Screenshot of Square Online Ordering Site Set Up

Once you have an account, you can create your Square Online store from your Square Dashboard. (Image from Square)

Screenshot of Square Plan To Fulfill Orders

You can allow pickup or delivery orders. (Image from Square)

Screenshot of Square Choosing Experience Works Best

You can create a streamlined shopping page or a full website with an online store. If you don’t have an existing website for your ghost kitchen, the full site is recommended. (Image from Square)

Screenshot of Square Allows You to Easily Add Content Blocks

Square’s site creator allows you to easily add content blocks to your site, including Instagram image carousels and customer testimonials. (Image from Square)

Screenshot of Setting Up Domain on Square

Finally, you can choose to find a custom domain (for a monthly membership fee) or use a Square subdomain for free. (Image from Square)

Screenshot of Square Adding Site Items

You add items to your Square Online store via the Square Dashboard. (Image from Square)

Screenshot of Square In House Delivery

You can toggle on delivery via on-demand third-party drivers or an in-house team. Fees apply to either arrangement. (Image from Square)

Square supports two options for delivery: on-demand third-party delivery or in-house delivery. For on-demand third-party delivery, Square integrates directly with DoorDash, UberEats, and Postmates. Square charges $1.50 per third-party delivery, and the platforms charge their own rates separately.

Square also has tools for map-based driver dispatch if you want to manage a team of in-house drivers. The driver management tools cost 50 cents per order—which is nice because you only pay for what you use. If you upgrade to the Square for Restaurants POS, you can integrate with multiple third-party delivery platforms as well and receive all of your online orders on one central tablet. The baseline POS is free and has no long-term contracts, so it’s a good fit for ghost kitchens. Learn more from our Square for Restaurants review .

Any third-party delivery platform you work with provides you with a tablet to receive orders. In some cases, you can also receive orders via your merchant portal on mobile devices you already own. Keep in mind, though, you’ll get a tablet for each platform you work with. So, if you work with three different platforms, you’ll have three separate merchant portals and potentially three different tablets.

Operating with multiple tablets for several delivery apps has earned an industry nickname, “tablet hell.” Beyond cluttering your prep areas, “tablet hell” has other drawbacks. These platform-provided tablets don’t contain other software to support your business, log employee hours, keep track of your inventory, or collect customer data. To streamline your ghost kitchen operation and prepare it for growth, adding a point-of-sale (POS) system is a good idea.

In addition to a POS, your ghost kitchen may also benefit from:

Kitchen and Receipt Printers

If you have multiple prep areas and pick-up areas in your kitchen, setting up individual printers helps you keep orders organized. You can program printers to print hot and cold items at separate stations and set up a receipt printer to print sticky labels with delivery information to enclose bags.

Kitchen Display Screens

Busy kitchens may prefer KDS screens in place of kitchen printers. These screens can separate orders by prep area and have the added benefit of color-coding orders as they are completed. This helps keep everyone on the same page. Using a KDS also gives you searchable data points to gauge the efficiency of your kitchen operation so that you can quickly identify opportunities for improvement. Finally, they can help integrate and plan food cooking periods so your kitchen operates more efficiently during a business rush.

Online Ordering Software

Your ultimate goal will be to get at least a portion of your business from direct customer orders; An online ordering system may be built into or integrated with your POS system, or you can use one of several good free-standing online ordering options. We list several great options in our ranking of restaurant online ordering software .

Delivery Management Software

You may not need delivery management software right away, but it is good to have it on your radar. To keep more of your money in your business, it may ultimately make the most sense to hire your own team of delivery drivers. You can also look for a POS that includes delivery management tools .

Customer Relationship Management Tools

Besides the significant downside of paying high commission fees, working with third-party delivery apps means you won’t get any of that customer data. For a ghost kitchen, customer data is precious. It shows you where your most frequent customers are located, how far your food is traveling, and if repeat customers order the same things or respond to specials and promotions. Like delivery management software, CRM tools may not be something you need right away, but you will want to add them as your business grows. Most restaurant POS systems have CRM tools.

Intermediary Tools

Between relying on third-party platforms and evolving to operate an in-house order and delivery operation, you might need some stepping stones. For example, Tablevibe is an app that allows you to add QR codes to your delivery receipts. Customers scan the code and are prompted to provide feedback to you directly. This provides you with customer data alongside customer feedback, which you can use to communicate specials or direct ordering instructions.

Ghost kitchens operate with tight margins and a high volume of sales. You’ll need to open accounts with wholesale distributors to keep your kitchen supplied with food, beverages, and takeout containers. Because storage space can be limited in a ghost kitchen, look for suppliers that deliver to your location multiple times per week so that you don’t overtax your refrigerators and freezers.

Your suppliers are an important part of controlling cost, and the decision between cost of goods and quality may be the most important decision you make. Finding reputable suppliers that offer competitive pricing without sacrificing food safety and quality is one of the most important aspects of the ghost kitchen business.

In addition to your menu ingredients, you need to think about how you will package each food for travel. Will individual burgers be packaged differently than combo meals? Do you have a plan for keeping French fries crisp and soup hot? The slideshow below can give you some inspiration. With consumer sentiment leaning toward eco-friendly options and 74% of consumers stating they would pay more for sustainable packaging , that is our focus for this slideshow.

Screenshot of Containers Segmented

Segmented fiberboard clamshells are ideal for everything from tacos and lobster rolls to salads and entrees. (Image from Worldc Centric)

Container Eco Flute Packaging

This vented cardboard clamshell helps keep fried foods crisp in transport. (Image from Novolex)

Burrown Hoagie Container

You can transport hoagies and subs intact with a sturdy cardboard clamshell. (Image from Burrows)

Segmented Paper Container

This Bio Tek segmented cardboard container is excellent for transporting entrees with sides. (Image from Restaurantware)

Screenshot of Containers Salad Bowls

Clear bowls in various sizes are ideal for salads and cold dishes. (Image from World Centric)

Screenshot of Containers Cold Cups Fabri-Kal

These cold cups from Fabri-Kal use the same size lids regardless of the cup’s size. (Image from Fabri-Kal)

Screenshot of Containers Custom Printed

These double wall hot cups from World Centric can be custom printed to reflect your brand. (Image from WorldCentric)

11. Hire & Train Staff

Your ghost kitchen needs at least a few staff members to keep up with order flow during busy times. Ghost kitchens tend to have primarily kitchen staff, though you may choose to self-deliver your food, in which case you’ll also need delivery drivers. Depending on your culinary ability, you may also need to hire a chef to develop your recipes. While chef consultants can be pricey, they offer insight into flavors and trends that can benefit your business in the long term. According to CloudKitchens, most ghost kitchens employ a staff of two to four employees.

Staffing shortages in the restaurant industry are well-known, but hiring restaurant staff is not impossible. You can increase your odds of finding a good ghost kitchen staff by

  • Writing a detailed job description:

You’ll get more relevant applications if your job posting lists the skills you need and the experience you are looking for.

  • Offering competitive compensation:

Check local job listings and see what similar jobs pay in your area. If you can, offer a higher hourly rate and list it in your job posting.

  • Posting the job on industry-specific sites:

General job sites like Indeed are great for reaching a high number of applicants. But if you need a specialized employee with food and beverage experience, consider restaurant-specific job sites like Culinary Agents and Poached .

You’ll need to train your team to cook your menu items and package them for delivery. The amount of training your staff requires will depend on the size and complexity of your menu and your employees’ experience level.

If you have a couple of experienced line cooks who are familiar with your style of food, training may take only a couple of days. On the other hand, if your team has little kitchen experience, you should allow at least a week. For a less experienced team, it may help if you start with ServSafe’s food handlers’ training so that everyone is on the same page regarding food safety.

Third-party delivery platforms offer multiple marketing tools that can boost your kitchen’s visibility on their sites. Take care to read the fine print of these marketing deals, though. Preferential marketing placement that lists your kitchen above others serving similar foods often incurs a higher commission rate. These marketing tiers are an excellent way to reach new customers, but make sure that the rates and contract length make sense for your business.

You can also market your ghost kitchen on social media sites. Instagram and Facebook get the attention of a ton of foodies and are home to a massive number of food influencers. At an absolute minimum, your brand should have accounts on both Facebook and Instagram. You can purchase ads on either site, set maximum ad budgets, and target users with a specific interest in your type of cuisine in your city. To drive sales, you can include direct links to your online ordering site on your accounts and even on individual posts. It may even be worthwhile to offer a free meal to local food Instagrammers to boost your ghost kitchen’s visibility.

One great way to market ghost kitchens is through influencer marketing. One only has to look at the successful ghost kitchen brand MrBeast Burger —run by the popular YouTuber MrBeast—and the $100 million dollars in revenue the brand has hit since December 2020 to see just how effective this can be. Influencers work within an online brand, so getting them in a local space to showcase your product to their audience is a great way to tap into a niche and loyal customer base.

With your menu, branding, and staff in place, you’re ready to start receiving orders! Don’t be discouraged if your first days or weeks are on the slow side. It may take a couple of weeks before you see some sales volume. In your downtime, design some social media ads and interact with local food influencers on Instagram to help drive future orders.

As your orders start to come in, keep an eye on what is selling and solicit customer feedback. One of the most appealing aspects of a ghost kitchen is its flexibility. You can shift your menu or pivot your operation quickly if something isn’t working. Be flexible, and be ready to add new concepts to your kitchen as consumer tastes change or you get a fresh menu idea. You’ve already done the hard work, so adding your next concept will be a piece of cake.

Pros & Cons of Operating a Ghost Kitchen

The ghost kitchen concept has been developing since the early 2010s, but consumer demand for food delivery in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic led to an explosion in ghost kitchens. Is now the time for you to launch your own ghost kitchen?

There are definitely pros and cons, so here’s what you should consider:

Ghost Kitchen Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can i open a ghost kitchen in my house.

In 48 states, it is illegal to operate a restaurant of any kind from your home. Even in Utah and California, where micro-enterprise home kitchen operations (MEHKOs) are legal, local ordinances typically prohibit home restaurants from using third-party delivery drivers. Though, if you live in a county that allows MEHKOs, there is usually nothing prohibiting you from delivering food from a home-based restaurant yourself or offering the food for takeout. Currently, no other states support a legal way for cooks to operate home-based restaurants, though several states currently have bills under review.

Do ghost kitchens always use third-party delivery apps like DoorDash?

Ghost kitchens don’t have to operate on third-party platforms, though most do. Some ghost kitchens operate independently, relying on social media advertising to drive customers to their independent online ordering site. This can be a time-intensive strategy, so most ghost kitchens at least get their start on third-party platforms and then build independent online ordering and delivery pipelines later. iEight Sushi is an example of a ghost kitchen that went the opposite direction—it started with independent order and delivery streams but now offers delivery through Grubhub.

Are virtual franchises a scam?

If you currently own a restaurant, you may be receiving phone calls and emails and seeing Facebook ads from companies offering you a “turn-key” virtual brand to run from your existing restaurant kitchen. The virtual franchise business model is completely legitimate and can be an attractive secondary revenue stream for your restaurant.

Brands like Future Foods, Nextbite, Virtual Dining Concepts, and The Local Culinary develop virtual restaurant concepts—sometimes partnering with influencers or public figures—to pitch to existing restaurants as add-on businesses. The virtual restaurant brand provides recipes, training, and branded packaging to franchisee kitchens, enabling concepts like Mario’s Tortas Lopez , and HotBox by Wiz Khalifa to serve throughout the country. If you have the staff and the space, a virtual franchise can be a low-risk way to test the ghost kitchen concept.

Ghost kitchens are an accessible and easy way to enter the food industry as an operator. These virtual restaurants only require a small staff, about half the permits, and 10% of the capital required for a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant. They allow for creativity and the ability to reach a wide customer base. With proper planning and knowledge of what is needed to execute one, ghost kitchens can be a lucrative and rewarding way to sell food to consumers in 2023.

About the Author

Ray Delucci

Ray Delucci

Ray Delucci is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America with a Bachelor’s in Food Business Management. He has experience managing restaurants in New York City, Houston, and Chicago. He is also the host of the Line Cook Thoughts Podcast, where he interviews and shares the stories of foodservice workers. Ray currently works in food manufacturing and food product development.

Was this article helpful?

Join Fit Small Business

Sign up to receive more well-researched small business articles and topics in your inbox, personalized for you. Select the newsletters you’re interested in below.

How to Start and Run a Ghost Kitchen

A ghost kitchen is a food service provider that only offers delivery, with no front-of-house dining or staff. Here's how to start one.

The right tools can make running your ghost kitchen a breeze. Make sure meals get delivered fast with Circuit for Teams .

If you dream of owning your own restaurant but lack the capital to get started, a ghost kitchen might be the answer.

All you need is a great idea, the right kitchen, and the drive to see it through. 

Since you’re already researching ways to start a ghost kitchen, I’m sure you already have an idea and the drive. What you need to know is how to get started with building your fast-food empire.

In this article, I’m going to discuss how ghost kitchens work and why they’re a worthy business venture — plus, seven tips on how to start one.

What is a ghost kitchen?

I’m going to give you more detailed information on each step in the process below. But first, I want to give you a quick rundown of what a ghost kitchen is.

Also known as a delivery-only restaurant, dark kitchen, or shadow kitchen, a ghost kitchen offers professional food preparation for restaurant-worthy meals — except there’s no dine-in option. 

People can only get the food delivered.

This trend has been disrupting the restaurant industry for over a decade, but really became popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Funding of ghost kitchen concepts took off throughout 2020 ($9 million to Zuul, $20 million to Virtual Kitchen, $120 million to Ordermark, and a whopping $700 million to Reef Technology).

Now, even big restaurant brands are ditching storefront restaurants and getting into the ghost kitchen game.

For example, celebrity chef Guy Fieri has launched his “ Flavortown Kitchen ” string of ghost restaurants across the country. By partnering with local restaurateurs and running out of their existing kitchens, Fieri promotes his own brand while also supporting their businesses.

How do ghost kitchens typically work?

A ghost kitchen prepares food for customers in a space that doesn’t offer any public dining access. 

It’s basically a virtual restaurant.

Ghost kitchens may have their own brick-and-mortar restaurant kitchens to prepare food. Since you don’t have to be centrally located to attract diners, you can set up your kitchen where the real estate is cheaper, like industrial warehouses on city outskirts. 

They can even share such a space with other ghost kitchen owners, further cutting costs.

Alternatively, you could even rent your ghost kitchens temporarily. 

For example, companies like Ikcon, Karma Kitchen, CloudKitchen, and WeCook help ghost kitchens secure shared kitchens, cutting startup costs while getting them a spot for food prep. 

It’s also possible to sublease space in an existing restaurant kitchen.

But just who is delivering?

Enter delivery apps.

Ghost kitchens are often found on delivery platforms like Uber Eats, GrubHub, and DoorDash. Other ghost kitchen models rely on their own delivery services, with an in-house team of drivers fulfilling last-mile delivery .

For example, Guy Fieri’s ghost kitchen concept allows you to order through popular food delivery apps like Grubhub, Bite Squad, Waitr, Postmates, Uber Eats, and DoorDash. 

Ghost kitchens have a few key benefits, including:

  • Save money on staffing. Since there’s no need to pay service staff or run a dining room, a ghost kitchen can be more affordable than a traditional restaurant model.
  • Cut real estate costs. With a traditional restaurant, location matters. You want to be in a place with plenty of foot traffic, which often means being in a city center — where commercial real estate prices tend to be high. With a ghost kitchen, location doesn’t matter, cutting real estate costs.
  • Focus on the food. When you don’t have to stress about issues like dining room decor and managing front-of-house staff, you can devote more time and energy to the best part — the food! After all, isn’t that why you got into restaurants in the first place?
  • Cater to a larger audience. When you run a dining room, you have a set cap on how many people you can serve in a night. When you’re delivery-only, you can cater to more people.

That said, ghost kitchens also have some drawbacks. Disadvantages include: 

  • Customer retention can be tough. When you’re delivery-only, you can’t impress customers with atmosphere or great service. You rely solely on your food to win them over and keep them loyal. In a market flooded with delivery options, customer retention can be a challenge.
  • Delivery errors can leave your customers dissatisfied. For example, if a delivery driver can’t find the address fast enough, the food might be cold when it arrives. You can minimize delivery errors using software like Circuit for Teams.
  • Online reputation is king. When you’re an online-only business, you have to manage your internet presence vigorously. Online branding and reviews can make or break your market presence. You have to devote extra time and energy to this process, for example, by replying to customer reviews, good and bad, in a constructive manner.
  • Quality maintenance can be tough. Sometimes, ghost kitchens open multiple locations. For example, in a huge city like New York, a restauranteur might open one kitchen location in Brooklyn and another in Queens, making it easier to serve both burroughs. However, it’s important to maintain consistency and quality across all locations.

How to start a ghost kitchen in 7 steps

Think starting a ghost kitchen might be for you? Here’s what you’ll have to do to get started.

Step 1: Choose a ghost kitchen concept 

As of 2021, Uber Eats had more than 900,000 restaurants on its platform. DoorDash had 390,000. 

And that’s only two of the many food delivery apps out there! 

The point is: If you want to make it in the competitive food delivery marketplace, the first step is to have a unique concept that stands out from the competition.

To develop a winning, stand-out concept, start by figuring out what food will be on your menu — and how it will be different. 

For example, if you’re starting a pizza restaurant, you might be flooded with competition. 

How can you stand out? You might make it a pizza restaurant that only uses organic, farm-to-table ingredients. 

The demand for organic food is on the rise worldwide , and so is the demand for locally sourced, farm-to-table goods. In keeping with these trends, an organic, farm-to-table pizza restaurant is unique and caters to a clear market demand.

To develop your concept, take these steps:

  • Do market research. Find out what restaurants are already delivering food in your category in your area by browsing food apps. This will allow you to identify a gap in the market. Learn more about doing market research .
  • Draft your menu. Once you’ve got your niche, start cooking to test out menu concepts. Keep in mind that you want menu items that will travel well. Sending a three-layer cake by bike courier ? Not such a great idea. Sending a tray of cupcakes? Much easier.
  • Establish a ghost kitchen brand. Once you have your kitchen concept and menu, pick a restaurant name ( this business name generator can help ) that reflects your brand. For example, you don’t want to name your restaurant Pizza King if you’re primarily selling salads. Make it accurate and easy to remember.

Step 2: Legally form your ghost kitchen business 

It’s the last thing you want to think about, but consider this: Someone eats your food and gets sick — so sick that they end up in the hospital. 

Soon after, you’ve been named in a personal injury lawsuit, demanding you recoup them for their medical bills and more.

Hopefully, this kind of scenario never happens. But being prepared can bring you peace of mind. 

To help protect your personal assets in this kind of situation, it’s important to establish your ghost kitchen as a formal business entity.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a guide to the different types of business models and their pros and cons. Common options include:

  • Sole proprietorship 
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • Corporation

Many food businesses opt for an LLC since it’s more straightforward and simple than other options but still protects your personal liability. 

You’ll have to register your business with the state where your ghost kitchen operates. This is usually done through the relevant Secretary of State’s office .

Step 3: Find a kitchen location 

Now for the big question: Where will you prepare your food? You have a few options.

  • Establish your own kitchen. Creating your own free-standing kitchen lets you customize details like the appliances, equipment, and layout. Plus, you won’t have to share storage and other spaces. However, it’s the priciest option, requiring a large investment. undefined
  • Use a shared commercial kitchen. You can rent a spot in a shared commercial-grade kitchen, saving money. Plus, since this kitchen space will already be licensed, you won’t have to worry about taking steps to make sure it’s up to code (fire, health, safety). As a drawback, though, you can’t control the location, and you may need to buy some extra equipment, depending on your restaurant’s needs. Plus, shared kitchen spots tend to fill up fast. undefined
  • Sublease an existing restaurant kitchen space. Some restaurants partially sublease their existing kitchen spaces to ghost kitchens. Again, this saves money and time, as you don’t have to worry about making sure the space is up to code. Plus, sublease options tend to be more plentiful than shared kitchen spaces. However, subleased restaurant kitchens can present problems like limited hours of operation, restrictive storage spaces, and a lack of accessibility for delivery drivers. undefined

Step 4: Secure relevant business permits, licensing, and insurance 

To make sure your ghost kitchen is legal and doesn’t get into any issues, there are a few licenses and permits you’ll need. While requirements will vary based on your location, here’s a quick roundup of some basics.

  • Business license: This is issued by your state, usually by the local Secretary of State . 
  • Employer identification number (EIN): An EIN is like a Social Security number (SSN) but for companies instead of individuals. You need it for staffing. You can get it from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) online .
  • State tax ID: This is like the EIN but for state taxes. You can use this directory listing to find out who to apply to for the EIN in your state.
  • Sales tax license: If you plan to purchase wholesale goods (like restaurant equipment or foodstuffs), you want a state sales tax license. You can then purchase wholesale goods without paying added taxes. You can likely get this through your state comptroller or department of revenue. For example, in Colorado, it’s handled by the Department of Revenue .
  • Food manager certificate: As a business owner dealing with food, this is mandatory in most states. Check your state’s local guidelines to be sure. The Department of Health usually manages this ( see Oregon , for example). You can get the certificate by taking a course and passing a test. ServSafe lets you do it quickly online.
  • Food handling license: Many states require employees who prepare food to have this license. You’ll have to check your state’s requirements. Usually, this information is provided by the Department of Health ( see Texas , for example). If needed, your employees will likely have to take a quick course and test — for example, through ServSafe — to get their license.

Note that if you decide to set up your own kitchen, you’ll need additional licenses and permits. For example, you’ll have to make sure that the kitchen is set up according to fire and safety codes, and your state’s health department will have to certify safety.

Finally, don’t forget to get insurance for your ghost restaurant! 

Common types of insurance you need will likely include general liability, workers’ comp, and commercial auto insurance if you have your own delivery team. Learn more here .

Step 5: Get established on food delivery apps 

Once you have the logistics above set up, it’s time to sign up with delivery vendors. Third-party platforms like Caviar, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Postmates, and DoorDash can list you on their platforms — boosting visibility — and take care of delivery.

The precise sign-up process for each one differs, but you’ll likely have to give some basic information to get started, such as:

  • Your location address
  • Contact information
  • Business bank account details
  • Web link or PDF of your menu

Working with an existing food delivery app has some pros and cons.

First, the good: You’ll have a wide online reach, thanks to the strong presence of an existing app. These apps are also convenient for customers, which can help with client acquisition and retention. 

Finally, with the apps, you don’t have to worry about hiring and managing drivers.

However, apps can also have major drawbacks. 

When you’re in an app, you’re placed in direct competition with many other food providers. 

You also don’t have access to customer data, which limits your marketing opportunities — for example, people who order by app may not visit your website or sign up to your newsletter. 

Finally, apps take hefty commissions — up to 30% per order in some cases .

Step 6: Create a delivery strategy 

If you don’t want to make use of third-party delivery services, you can also deliver the food yourself. 

This gives you complete control over the process and can be reassuring, as you’ll know that your own team is handling the food and getting it from your kitchen to the customer safely and securely.

Plus, you won’t have to compete with other food providers on the app. 

For example, if the number of delivery people working on a given day is limited — or demand is high due to bad weather — getting a driver can take time, which leaves your customers waiting. 

Hangry, impatient customers? No thanks!

If you decide to handle deliveries in-house, routing software like Circuit for Teams can help you manage the process. You can assign routes to drivers and track their progress in real time. Plus, you can send delivery notes and updates to customers directly, so they know exactly when their food will arrive.

Circuit for Teams can also help your drivers get their delivery orders done faster . The software maps out the fastest route for drivers to follow, taking into consideration everything from traffic patterns to construction sites. 

Faster food delivery means happier customers — and more seamless ghost restaurant operations.

Circuit for Teams has already helped plenty of providers get a grasp on their delivery operations. 

Roll This Way is one great example . The custom sushi catering company set up their own team of drivers to deliver sushi kits throughout the Greater Toronto Area. 

Planning a single driver’s route could take 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. With a team of five drivers, this could mean six-plus hours of planning on a heavy delivery day. 

With Circuit for Teams to take care of route planning, the Roll This Way team saved valuable hours — and got added peace of mind with features like proof of delivery.

Learn more about starting a good delivery business .

Step 7: Market your ghost kitchen business 

The first step in marketing is establishing a strong brand. We discussed this in step one — it starts with your restaurant name. 

You also want a visually compelling logo and a color scheme, which you’ll use on all your branding materials, including your website, menus, and business cards. Learn more about branding .

You can further boost your brand and get people excited about your food with visuals. Yummy food photos are a great way to stand out from the crowd. 

Take a hamburger, for example. A juicy burger on a crisp toasted bun can be a great visual. But if the bun is soggy, the lettuce is wilted, and the burger meat is burned? 

Not so attractive. Photos can make or break the sale.

While you can hire a professional food photographer, you can also create your own culinary images. Here are some tips to get it right.

  • Set food against a plain background like a white plate.
  • Avoid distractions like cutlery and glasses and focus the images on the food.
  • Make the food look great with the right lighting. Natural light is easiest and looks best. Alternatively, you can use indoor lighting and diffuse it with parchment paper.

With your marketing materials ready to go, it’s time to spread the word. Most third-party delivery platforms offer marketing tools to help. 

For example, you might be able to offer temporary deals and get your restaurant a highlighted listing. However, note that the platform will likely charge a higher commission as a result.

You can also do your own marketing using your website, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media. Partnering with local food bloggers or influencers is another option. 

Discover how Circuit for Teams can optimize your ghost kitchen delivery process

Get your ghost kitchen restaurant business off to a strong start with Circuit for Teams. You won’t have to worry about delivery drivers getting lost or taking too long. This routing software tells them the fastest way to get from point A to point B, and you can track their progress live.

About the author

Heather Reinblatt is a managing editor currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. She spends her free time reading, trying new recipes, and cuddling her cat Paisley. You can find Heather on LinkedIn .

Like this? Then try these 👇

Earn more in less time with circuit for teams.

Discover why so many choose Circuit for their business

Reduce your delivery costs by 20% with Circuit for Teams

  • Customized onboarding
  • Instant account setup
  • Unlimited dispatchers
  • Driver analytics
  • Customer notifications
  • Live track of delivery drivers
  • Optimized routes
  • Edit live routes

Search articles and guides

How to open a ghost kitchen: what restaurant owners need to know.

Author’s thumbnail (Joy Manning)

Aspiring restaurateurs once looked to the food truck as a way to break into the business. It was faster, easier, and cheaper than launching a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Today, advances in restaurant technology have made ghost kitchens the preferred way to launch a restaurant concept quickly on the cheap.

The mania for delivery drives the continued success of ghost kitchens. In spite of pervasive anxiety about a possible recession, people are still dropping money on food delivery.

DoorDash’s revenue increased by 33% in the third quarter of 2022 compared to 2021, according to the Wall Street Journal. And ghost kitchens will be responsible for 50% of takeout business by 2030 . Celebrity chef Guy Fieri now runs ghost kitchens all over the United States.

Whether you’re just starting out in the business or you’re a restaurant industry vet, you may be wondering if you should start a ghost kitchen. Read on to find out what you need to know to make the call.

Quick links What is a ghost kitchen? What are the pros of starting a ghost kitchen? What are the cons of opening a ghost kitchen? What are the steps to opening a ghost kitchen?

What is a ghost kitchen?

Also known as ghost restaurants, delivery-only restaurants, virtual restaurants, or virtual kitchens, this new type restaurant business took off during the pandemic. In spite of people returning to their 2019 restaurant habits, the ghost kitchen business is still booming.

Ghost kitchens can be standalone businesses, but sometimes they are a second or third concept operating out of an existing restaurant kitchen by the same owner. A ghost kitchen is defined by its lack of public access. There’s no storefront or dining room. Most of the time, you can’t even pick it up. It’s delivery-only .

What are the pros of starting a ghost kitchen?

Overhead costs The biggest benefit to starting a ghost kitchen is the low startup costs compared to traditional restaurants. The number of square feet needed when there’s no dining room is a lot less, and the location is less important. Things like a prominent location on a great corner with tons of foot traffic make a space expensive but aren’t important for a ghost kitchen. The real estate costs on a ghost kitchen should be comparatively cheap.

Less labor During a relentless hiring crisis , the fewer people you need to run your business the better. Ghost kitchens don’t need servers, bartenders, food runners, or hosts. All they need is a core kitchen team.

New audience For current restaurant owners, launching a new ghost kitchen concept can mean reaching a totally new audience. If you run a steakhouse and launch a burger ghost kitchen at a much lower price point you are now serving a whole new type of guest. It’s possible to start a relationship with a $10 burger that leads them to becoming a regular at your flagship restaurant.

Focus on the food Not everyone who gets into the food business is a people person. For some, the high-touch aspect of hospitality isn’t a draw. This is the type of person who might thrive at the helm of a ghost kitchen. It can be all about the food.

Image depicts plates of takeout sitting on a table. There are some dishes of meat and some vegetables. There is a paper bag sitting in the back.

What are the cons of opening a ghost kitchen?

Delivery fees The start-up costs may be less, but there are other costs to consider. Mainly the steep delivery fees that your third-party delivery partners will charge on every order. These fees can climb to 30%. It’s definitely something you should consider as you think about the kind of food you want to offer and set the prices.

Not all food is cut out for delivery If your obsession is burritos, you may have the perfect concept for a ghost kitchen. But not all food travels well. If the dream was to open a chef-driven restaurant with creative small plates featuring several components each, it might be hard to translate into something that works well for delivery . Be honest with yourself and don’t try to force a ghost kitchen on an idea that’s all wrong for the format.

Hard to nurture regulars People looking for delivery take to the apps with the same cold appraisal singles bring to Tinder. They’re going to swipe, swipe, and scroll until some new thing catches their eye. This makes it very difficult to build relationships with loyal diners. You may be looking at having few regulars to rely on.

Timely delivery is out of your hands Typically a restaurant is handing off the food to a gig worker from a delivery app. At this point, the restaurant loses all control over the transaction. But if the driver gets lost or distracted and the food arrives late and cold, the diner is likely to direct their frustration at you.

Image depicts a delivery driver with a teal cooler strapped to their back, They are biking down a cobblestone street.

What are the steps to opening a ghost kitchen?

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, it’s time to look at how you go about the process of opening a ghost kitchen.

Scout a spot Ghost kitchens can be set up in a wide variety of places. Some of the most popular are shared commissary kitchens, so check out what may be available where you live.

Sometimes restaurants will sublease kitchen space to ghost concepts. If you go that route, be aware you may face limited hours of operations and a lack of storage space. Over the past few years, shopping malls have become hot spots for ghost kitchens as retail has gone more and more online.

In some places around the US, you can even start a ghost kitchen from your home kitchen if you go through the proper channels and pass local inspections. Consider all the options before making a choice.

Pick a concept When deciding on a concept , you need to figure out how what you want to do overlaps with what your community needs. Do some market research to find out if the pizza market is oversaturated, for example. Think about the type of menu items that are most popular for takeout . When what you want to serve intersects with what people like and what your area most needs, you’ve hit a recipe for ghost kitchen success.

Write a business plan A ghost kitchen may have fewer moving parts than a full-fledged restaurant, but it’s a similar business model. You’ll still need to know how to write a restaurant business plan . It may be a pared-down version of what is typical for the industry, but every business owner needs this document to help organize things, guide decisions, and get the project off the ground.

Create a brand When you have no sign, no street presence, and no face-to-face interactions with customers, the brand identity of the business becomes even more important. Start with a logo. Keep in mind this graphic should be readable and eye-catching on the delivery apps where people will see it.

Consider hiring a graphic designer to create not only this logo but a brand kit. You’ll get the logo in all the sizes you’ll need for emails and across social media as well as business cards, stickers to seal to-go packages, and menu design elements. If you don’t have a graphic designer in mind, check out platforms like Fiverr and Upwork to find a professional who can work with your needs and budget.

Get the right permits, insurance, licenses, and certifications These vary greatly by location , so you’ll need to research the specific things you need for your city or town. Generally speaking, it will include things like

  • ServSafe Certification
  • Health inspection
  • Liability insurance
  • Business license

Choose your delivery apps You know the major third-party delivery players: Grubhub, Uber Eats, Caviar, Postmates, and more. Some ghost kitchens prefer to work with one app while others have a presence on them all. Each has slightly different terms and fee structures so be sure to read all the fine print before you decide. All process online orders the easy way people have come to expect.

Write a marketing plan Lack of foot traffic cuts down on rents, but it also means if you want any meaningful exposure, you have to work for it. You may want to dedicate significant resources to social media . Other restaurant marketing strategies to consider are paid advertising, media coverage, email marketing, and influencer marketing.

Do a food photo shoot Ghost kitchens live or die online. Websites , delivery platforms, and social media are everything. So it’s even more important to show off every tangle of noodles and cheese pull to its best advantage. Consider scheduling a photo shoot with a professional food photographer. If that’s not possible, stage it yourself, taking plenty of shots of menu items in natural light with your phone.

Hire the right people You don’t have to staff up in quite the same way in a ghost kitchen that you would in a traditional restaurant. Still, you need great cooks, dishwashers, and people to pack up the orders. Keep in mind the labor market is still tight, and leave yourself extra time to find, hire, and train the right people.

Open and experiment One of the perks of opening a ghost kitchen is flexibility. Keep a close eye on what happens in your first weeks, and use that information to make adjustments going forward. Tweak your hours, add or drop menu items, or adjust prices based on what you learn as you go.

A ghost kitchen isn’t the right fit for every concept or every restaurateur, but with a well thought-out plan it can be a great way to get into the business or open up a new revenue stream.

host ghost kitchen

Get the latest resources to help power up your hospitality.

By signing up, you agree to our privacy policy . You also agree to receive marketing communications from OpenTable about news, events and promotions. You can unsubscribe from OpenTable emails at any time.

6 easy steps to set up an Experience on OpenTable

6 easy steps to set up an Experience on OpenTable

How we dine now

How we dine now

The restaurant industry, by the numbers

The restaurant industry, by the numbers

host ghost kitchen

Email Address * Restaurant Country * Please select United States United Kingdom Canada Netherlands Australia France Germany Mexico Spain Japan Italy -------------- Afghanistan Åland Islands Albania Algeria American Samoa Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, The Dem. Republic Of Cook Islands Costa Rica Côte d'Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands Faroe Islands Fiji Finland French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Terr. Gabon Gambia Georgia Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard/McDonald Isls. Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran Iraq Ireland Israel Jamaica Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea (North) Korea (South) Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Laos Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macau Macedonia Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Micronesia Moldova Monaco Mongolia Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar N. Mariana Isls. Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands Antilles New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Saint Martin (French part) Samoa San Marino Sao Tome/Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia and Montenegro Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Slovak Republic Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa Sri Lanka St. Helena St. Pierre and Miquelon St. Vincent and Grenadines Sudan Suriname Svalbard/Jan Mayen Isls. Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks/Caicos Isls. Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates US Minor Outlying Is. Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela Vietnam Virgin Islands (British) Virgin Islands (U.S.) Wallis/Futuna Isls. Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Submit By signing up, you agree to our privacy policy . You also agree to receive marketing communications from OpenTable about news, events and promotions. You can unsubscribe from OpenTable emails at any time.

The pros and cons of operating a ghost kitchen in 2023

Sign up for restaurant insights.

Scroll through any major food delivery app and you’re likely to come across restaurants that seem to only exist online. Chances are, they’re ghost kitchens — virtual brands that use delivery platforms like Grubhub to reach hungry diners. Flexible and cost-effective, this business model is an ever-growing trend in the restaurant industry.

Developing a virtual brand is a great way to capture the growing delivery industry. Restaurateurs, chefs, and entrepreneurs typically will launch their virtual brands either through a ghost kitchen or as a virtual restaurant that operates in tandem with their brick-and-mortar concept. 

How we talk about virtual brands and delivery-only restaurant concepts can be a bit confusing. The restaurant industry uses terms like ghost kitchen, cloud kitchen, dark kitchen and virtual restaurants when talking about delivery-only restaurant concepts, and all these different terms can make it difficult to understand which model is best for launching your virtual brand. 

In this article, you’ll learn the differences between ghost kitchens and virtual restaurants so that you can decide which model will work best for launching your virtual brand.

What’s a ghost kitchen?

A ghost kitchen is a commercial kitchen that makes meals for delivery only. These operations don’t have visible physical presences. Instead, they operate in the digital space. You’ll find their “ghost menus” — menus that are only available for delivery — on food delivery apps. Some even have full-fledged online ordering websites to bring in more business.

Ghost kitchens can operate out of any commercial kitchen. Some use the kitchens in existing restaurants. Others pay for time in standalone commercial kitchens, often sharing the space with caterers and virtual restaurants.

As food delivery has become more popular, so have ghost kitchens. The delivery market in the United States doubled during the pandemic , and it continues to grow even as the restaurant industry returns to normal. Customers have embraced the convenience of apps like Grubhub, creating the perfect environment for virtual restaurants to thrive.

Ghost restaurants vs. traditional establishments

Ghost kitchens and traditional restaurants both create menus and prepare food for individual customers. However, a ghost kitchen lacks the familiar trappings of a typical brick-and-mortar restaurant brand. It doesn’t have a storefront, signs or dining area; there are no front-of-house staff members, and customers can’t stop by to pick up takeout.

If you already operate a restaurant or you’ve always wanted to start one, the ghost kitchen concept is worth considering. The barriers to entry are lower, which means you can get up and running in less time. In fact, many traditional restaurants run ghost kitchens as a way to reach new audiences, try out new cuisines or test new dishes.

Before you open a ghost kitchen or add a virtual brand to your restaurant, it’s important to understand what’s involved. You’ll still need to secure funding, find suppliers and obtain permits and licenses. This process might be faster if you already own a restaurant, but it still takes time. Your local health department and business development office can help you understand the rules.

Because ghost kitchen brands don’t have the advantage of a storefront to build awareness, marketing is critical. You can take advantage of your delivery partner’s promotions and loyalty tools to reach new audiences and gain customer reviews. Check out our guide on how to make your virtual restaurant brand irresistible.

Download the Virtual Restaurants guide

Pros and cons of operating a ghost kitchen

Given the costs and risks associated with opening a traditional restaurant, many entrepreneurs consider alternatives such as ghost kitchens and food trucks. As you consider whether a virtual food-service business is right for you, it’s important to take an honest look at the pros and cons.

Pros of operating a ghost kitchen

Some of the reasons people choose to start ghost kitchens rather than physical restaurants include:

  • Lower startup costs. With a ghost kitchen, you don’t need to buy property and equipment. Instead, you can lease the space and equipment in an existing licensed commercial kitchen.
  • Low operating costs. A ghost kitchen doesn’t require servers, bussers, hosts or bartenders, so you can dramatically reduce labor, hiring, and training costs. Plus, you don’t need to worry about washing customer dishes, maintaining furniture, paying decorators and cleaning a dining area.
  • Lower risk. Lower startup costs also mean less risk; if the ghost kitchen doesn’t work out as expected, you’re less invested.
  • Maximizes resources. For existing restaurants, a virtual restaurant is a way to get more value from staff and equipment. It helps you increase revenue without investing in additional space.
  • Easy experimentation. A ghost kitchen removes the limitations of your current restaurant brand. It’s a safe space to experiment with new food items and cuisines to see what customers respond to. Because the entire operation is digital, you can change up your offerings without reprinting menus.
  • Convenient delivery. Food delivery apps are optimized for ghost kitchens, so you can get your food to customers without hiring or managing delivery drivers.
  • Low-contact meals. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, diners have been increasingly interested in low-contact food operations. It’s one of the reasons ghost kitchens are so popular — fewer people come into contact with the food.

Cons of operating a ghost kitchen

No business model is perfect, and ghost kitchens also have some drawbacks:

  • Limited plating creativity. Because you’re packaging food for delivery, there are fewer ways to present it beautifully. Instead, you must focus on packaging that keeps the food in good condition while in transit.
  • Environmental impact. While ghost kitchens use less energy and materials, they use a higher volume of packaging. If you want to control your environmental impact, you’ll need to find sustainable packaging options .
  • Tight margins. Restaurants almost always have tight profit margins. With ghost kitchens, you must factor in additional costs for packaging and food delivery fees.
  • Challenging brand building. Building brand awareness for a virtual restaurant is often more difficult than it is for traditional restaurants. Because you don’t have a storefront or signs, you must work harder to reach customers.

If the benefits of ghost kitchens outweigh the cons for your operation, it’s an option worth pursuing. The Grubhub virtual restaurant checklist can help you get started.

host ghost kitchen

Are ghost kitchens the future of the restaurant industry?

Ghost kitchens are likely to be an important part of the restaurant industry in the coming years. While these virtual operations are unlikely to overtake brick-and-mortar restaurants — customers still enjoy the community and connection of in-person dining — they’re gaining a bigger market share.

It’s easy to see why: Virtual restaurants speak directly to the needs and preferences of modern consumers. They’re inherently convenient, allowing diners to use tech trends such as contactless payments, third-party food delivery apps and digital loyalty programs. With the right infrastructure, ghost kitchens can develop sustainable operations that satisfy customers’ desire for eco-friendly dining solutions.Ghost kitchens are here to stay, and if you’re interested in joining the virtual charge it can help to have a partner like Grubhub by your side. Listing your virtual restaurant on Grubhub Marketplace can give your brand instant exposure. As you consider how to expand your existing restaurant or start a new ghost kitchen, explore the ways  Grubhub can help you get started.

Reach even more hungry customers with us by your side. Join Grubhub.

Trending articles

  • Restaurant alcohol storage: best practices
  • Mocktail menu ideas for your restaurant
  • Service charge vs tip: What’s the difference?
  • Revolutionizing restaurants: exploring the power of restaurant automation
  • Creative restaurant event ideas to elevate your restaurant’s brand

More articles like this

host ghost kitchen

How Restaurants Can Make the Most Out of...

When implemented effectively, feedback can help restaurants greatly improve the customer experience. Here are four ways restaurants can...

host ghost kitchen

How Winter Weather Impacts Food Orders

Need winter menu ideas? GrubHub analyzed winter food orders and found that soup orders were on the rise,...

host ghost kitchen

5 tips for successful restaurant reopening in 2021

Learn five important steps you can take to ensure your restaurant reopening strategy is safe, successful, and sustainable.

host ghost kitchen

Learn how the Grubhub Delivery process protects your...

Food safety is critical to your restaurant, and at Grubhub we understand that. Learn how we protect your...

Don't leave money on the table

The faster you partner with grubhub, the faster your business can grow..

Join Grubhub Marketplace and get access to all the benefits that go with it. All fields required

Already have an account? Sign in

Don't miss out - drive higher ROI for your Restaurant!

Nearly 9 out of 10 restaurant owners surveyed agree that Grubhub delivers a high ROI to their business - higher than the competition average*

Thrive on your own terms with flexible pricing and marketing rates as low as 5%.

*Grubhub Restaurant Intelligence Technomic Report 2022

Street Food Central

  • How To Start A Successful Mobile Catering Business (+ free cookbook & equipment checklist)
  • Street Eats & Big Feats (Food truck cookbook)
  • Recommended Products
  • Popular Suppliers
  • Logo Design
  • Food Truck Wraps
  • Cookie Policy

host ghost kitchen

How To Start A Ghost Kitchen From Home

Check out this step by step guide on how to start a ghost kitchen from home

How To Start A Ghost Kitchen From Home

The commercial food market has been going through a number of shifts in recent years to meet consumer demand and structural shifts as a result of the covid pandemic of 2020.

One of the changes is an increase in online delivery, which has given rise to what is known as “Ghost kitchens” or “Virtual kitchens”. This type of commercial food business sells food through third-party food delivery apps such as Deliveroo & Uber Eats as opposed to having a customer-facing food outlet.

This way of doing business has also made it easier for people to start their own ghost kitchens not only in commercial kitchens but also from home, by cutting costs and generally lowering the barrier to entry.

So if you landed on this article and want to know how to start a ghost kitchen from home read on for a step-by-step guide.

What is a ghost kitchen?

A ghost kitchen, also known as a “Virtual Kitchen”, “Dark Kitchen” or “Cloud Kitchen” are remote commercial kitchens that operate online and sell to the public through food delivery apps such as Uber eats, Deliveroo and just eats, as opposed to public-facing food outlets.

Please enable JavaScript

Ghost or Virtual kitchens have been growing in popularity in recent years, especially since the Covid pandemic of 2020 when businesses and individuals alike have had to adapt to the challenges of lockdowns. According to Statista the  global market size of ghost kitchens in 2019 was valued at over $40 billion , which, CNBC states could increase to a $1 trillion global market by 2030.

The Pros and cons of ghost kitchens

Like any type of business venture, there are numerous pros and cons to ghost kitchens as a business model.

Low start-up costs

Ghost kitchens don’t have the additional costs that come with physical food outlets, such as signage, interior design and fittings etc. Even for relatively low start-up ventures like food trucks, you still need to buy the catering unit you operate from.

All you really need is a large domestic or commercial kitchen, storage space and the right cooking equipment for a food delivery operation.

Lower operating costs

This applies especially if you start a ghost kitchen from home because you don’t need to pay the high running costs associated with customer-facing food outlets such as rents or utility bills.

Moreover, if you are running your ghost kitchen delivery service from home you don’t even need to pay the rent on pop-up commercial kitchens.

Existing infrastructure

When you sell through third-party food delivery apps such as Deliveroo or Uber Eats you are tapping into their existing ecosystem with thousands of people ordering each day. This means you don’t have to spend time or money marketing to reach new customers.

Third parties deal with the delivery

In addition to having a ready-made client base, third-party apps also have the capacity to fulfil the orders, which means you can just focus on creating good food without the headache of logistics.

Quick & inexpensive way to test a concept

Starting a ghost kitchen from home is a relatively quick and inexpensive business model, which means it’s easy to test a new food concept without all the risks associated with starting a physical food outlet.

This also means because you don’t need so much equipment you can quickly get up and running, making those deliveries.

Paying a commission

When you sell food through third-party delivery apps, like Uber Eats or Deliveroo you have to pay a commission which will eat into your profits. Commission for selling and handling the deliveries ranges from 14% per order, plus a fixed 50p for Just Eats to around 20-25% commission for Deliveroo.

Not in control of customer data

Third-party food delivery platforms deal with all the orders and have control of the customer-generated data. It’s therefore, harder for businesses that sell on these platforms to gain insights and make business decisions based on consumer behaviour.

Hard to build customer rapport

Not having access to customer data also makes it harder to connect with them through things like email marketing, thus making it hard to build rapport.


Unlike a high street where there are a handful of other food outlets, businesses that operate through third-party apps will be competing with hundreds of other food businesses in one place.

This can make it harder to stand out, especially if you are new, or if you sell a type of cuisine that many other companies are already doing.

Can you operate a ghost kitchen from home?

According to the Food Standards Agency , you can start a ghost kitchen from home as long as you register as a food business; register as self-employed; have the correct food training and certification, and keep a record of all the suppliers that provide you with any food ingredients.

There are a few more things that are required which we will go into in more detail in the next section.

How to start a ghost kitchen from home

Step 1 – Choose a niche

First up you want to decide what food you want to sell. Try and choose a particular niche and stick to it, as this will help with your brand identity.

You also want to strike a balance between a food niche that has not been overdone (think pizzas and burgers) but not too obscure that people don’t really know what you are selling.

Related articles:

  • 7 Most Profitable Food Truck Items
  • 28 Food Truck Menu Ideas 2023
  • Best Packaging For Hot Food Delivery

Step 2 – Market research

Another part of the process when choosing what food you want to sell is market research.

There are a number of ways to find out food trends that include subscribing to statistical websites to access the data and keeping an eye on food outlets & food trucks to see which ones are popular and what new types of foods are coming to market.

For example, Vietnamese food, which I would argue has been underserved previously is now becoming a popular cuisine in the UK.

Step 3 – Optimise for delivery

Remember, ghost kitchens are all about food delivery so It’s also a good idea to pick food that can easily be cooked in bulk and delivered. Dishes like curries and rice can be cooked in big pans and kept at the correct serving temperature which makes the timing of delivery easier than cooking chips and burgers.

Step 4 – Business name & Branding

Once you have chosen your niche, you now have a concept which means it needs a business name and branding to convey what you are about to your customers.

Try and choose a business name that has the food you sell in the name and is three words or less (think V’s Vietnamese).

Related article:

  • How To Name Your Food Truck
  • What Food Has The Highest Profit Margin?

Step 5 – Equipment

The type of food you sell will dictate what equipment you need, so once you’ve decided on your niche you can start buying catering equipment.

If you want to keep costs low I recommend buying second-hand. There are a number of websites such as eBay and Gumtree, in addition to Facebook groups that have a wide range of second-hand catering equipment.

  • Where To Buy Used Food Truck Equipment
  • The Advantages & Disadvantages of Using a Commissary Kitchen

Step 6 – Storage and space

When starting a ghost kitchen from home space may be limited which means you need to make sure you have enough room for the catering equipment and surface area to prepare and package the food.

You also need adequate refrigeration and storage space for your stock and packaging. If you don’t have enough space at home you can adopt a hybrid model whereby you have a separate storage facility for stock and you do the cooking at home or vice versa. Pop-up commercial kitchens can be rented for as little as £20 per hour.

Step 7 – Packaging

You need to choose packaging that is suitable for hot food delivery that provides heat insulation and regulates temperature.

You also want to make sure you go for packaging made from sustainable sources such as compostable or biodegradable containers

  • 6 Best Suppliers Of Biodegradable packaging

Step 8 – Operating Legally

Before you start serving food to the public you need to make sure you have the right insurance, training and certificates in place.

The Food Standards Agency has put together a very useful guide on what you need to start a ghost kitchen from home legally.

Here is a summary:

  • Register as a food business – This should be done 28 days before opening
  • Register as self-employed – Notify HMRC of the change in your employment status
  • Permission to trade from home – Get permission from mortgage provider or landlord to sell food from home
  • Risk assessment – Document the risks associated with your businesses (burns, trip hazards etc)
  • HACCP – Document the process of buying, storing, cooking and transporting foodstuffs
  • Food hygiene training – Whilst not compulsory it’s suggested to get relevant food hygiene training
  • Allergen management – Handle and manage food allergens effectively in food preparation and provide allergen information to your customers
  • Traceability – Keep a record of the supplier you source food from
  • What Food Truck Catering License Do I Need For The UK?

Step 9 – Choosing a digital platform

Finally, you need to decide which food delivery platform you want to sell through. As previously mentioned the amount each company charges will differ so you will have to factor this into your operating costs.

However, cost shouldn’t be the only consideration as some of these apps have better marketing and are better known which means whilst they may charge more they have a larger customer base.

Key takeaways

The shift towards online food delivery shows no signs of slowing down, which means ghost kitchens will likely become more of a feature of this industry.

On balance, the pros of starting a ghost kitchen from home outweigh the cons. It’s a relatively low-cost venture to start in terms of the initial financial outlay and you can test your food concept quickly.

You also have access to a large ready-made customer base on food delivery apps that deal with all the logistics of getting the food from your kitchen to the customer.

A few things to bear in mind, however, is as delivery apps become more popular so will the number of other food outlets on them, which might make it harder to find a niche. The commission you pay can also be relatively high on some platforms.

host ghost kitchen

Gavin D is the founder of Street Food Central and Tru Foo Juice Bar Co. and has worked in the mobile catering industry for over 7 years.

How to start a food truck business

  • [email protected]
  • (678)666-3688

2023 Ghost Kitchen Guide: Everything You Need To Know

  • January 15, 2023

Guide to ghost kitchens

Food delivery apps such as Postmates, GrubHub, and DoorDash have introduced us to the golden age of food delivery in America. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic that exploded the food delivery industry thanks to the closing of indoor dining, especially in large metro areas, the food delivery industry was growing  300% faster  than the dine-in industry over the last five years. Through a study it was learned that over 50% of consumers in the United States grab delivery at least once a week, either for work lunch or a quick dinner. This means big money for businesses that partner with these food delivery apps. Before the pandemic, businesses were seeing a ~20% increase in sales through the utilization of third-party delivery companies.

The explosion of the delivery business has created a completely new type of business trying to capitalize on the boom, called “ghost kitchens.” The ghost kitchen is a modern 21st-century invention that helps restaurants expand their delivery service at an optimal cost. We’ll be taking a look at what a ghost kitchen even is and what it can mean for your business.

Is A Ghost Kitchen the Same As a Virtual Restaurant?

While the two terms “ ghost kitchen ” and “virtual restaurant” are often used by people interchangeably the two concepts are actually very different, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

What is a ghost kitchen?

host ghost kitchen

Think about everything you know about what makes a restaurant. Now simply take away the tables, chairs, cash registers, wall menus, and soft drinking stations. Now you have a ghost kitchen!

Simply put, a ghost kitchen is a delivery-only restaurant. There is no foot traffic by customers because orders are made online through the food delivery apps and then picked up by a delivery driver to be dropped off wherever the customer pleases.

As you can see this means ghost kitchens are 100% reliant on 3rd-party delivery apps, like Postmates, UberEats, and GrubHub to receive orders. The other way is if a company has enough capital like Chick-Fil-A or Chipotle that has developed its own apps that you can order directly from there. An advantage to this system is you only have to pay rent for enough space for your cooks as you do not have to have any square footage to seat customers.

What is a virtual brand?

host ghost kitchen

A delivery-only food concept that runs solely through online sales and delivery apps is called a virtual brand. These differ from ghost kitchens as ghost kitchens also have physical locations and use the ghost kitchens to keep their storefronts moving smoothly and efficiently.

However, most virtual brands are also spinoffs of restaurants with physical locations that simply rebrand online. An example of this would be a burger shop that repurposes its surplus of ingredients to create taco shop exclusively through food delivery apps.

What is a virtual restaurant?

The major difference between a virtual restaurant and a ghost kitchen is virtual restaurants don’t rent from third parties. They have their own established brick and mortar locations (or food trucks), and use their existing kitchens to create additional, delivery-exclusive menus.

Why Are Ghost Kitchens Becoming So Popular?

To keep the answer as blunt as possible, ghost kitchens are becoming so popular due to food delivery exploding. In the food industry when trends present themselves, such as this, smart chefs do what they can to get ahead of the curve, and obviously investors jump on the bus too.

To explain further investors that believe in ghost kitchens are bank that food delivery is the future of this industry. Adding to the fact,  most restaurants are losing profit when using delivery apps . If done correctly, the utilization of a ghost kitchen will optimize the restaurant’s performance for food delivery, fixing the problem.

What Are Advantages to Ghost Kitchens?

host ghost kitchen

  • Dominate a food category –  There’s nothing stopping you from creating multiple brands underneath the same category. Think about a popular food that is commonly delivered like burgers or pizza. If you have multiple brands on the same app it naturally allows to you have more virtual real estate, increasing the likelihood of making the sale. No one knows the difference as you can run multiple brands out of the same kitchen.
  • Food Delivery Is Exploding, But Foot Traffic Is Down –  The ways in which consumers  are getting their food is fundamentally changing. For four years in a row foot traffic has slowed. On top of that 52% of adults now say that ordering takeout or delivery is “essential” to their lifestyle. Analysts expect the food  delivery industry to hit $76 billion by 2022, a 77% projected growth in the industry in only five years. In reaction to this trend restaurants are having to rethink their ratio of grills and kitchen space to tables and customer space. This is where ghost kitchens come in. They are made specifically for the off-premise eating.
  • Startup Costs Are Unprecedentedly Low –  If you’re looking to open a new restaurant, the startup costs are no joke. The median construction cost to startup a restaurant is $200,000. This doesn’t even include any type of kitchen or bar equipment, decor, seating, etc. With a ghost kitchen, the building can be roughly 50-60% smaller than a sit-in restaurant. If you purchase your own  shipping container kitchen  to be your ghost kitchen, it can come with all major appliances installed. Once it’s delivered and placed, all that needs to be done is connected to electric and water.
  • Labor Doesn’t Have To Be Your Major Expense –  For most restaurants, the normal rule of thumb is keeping the labor cost percentage between 20% and 30% of gross revenue. Thanks to ghost kitchens, these numbers can be much lower. You eliminate the need for people at an order counter, serving staff, bus boys, etc. Everyone you hire will work strictly at keeping the business working efficiently to cook and package the orders for delivery.
  • Food Costs And Margins Can Be Optimized Like Never Before  – Ghost kitchens can cut down to their specific products that they believe will be successful rather than having a super diverse menu to satisfy many sit in customers. Smaller menus means keeping only menu items that travel well for delivery which offers a more streamlined production, and clearer margins.
  • Delivery Platforms Open Up A Massive New Channel –  Brick-and-mortar restaurants have a limited number of customers they can serve. Oftentimes their customer base is limited to the nearby foot traffic being the variable that decides order volume. Therefore to increase sales, you must open up a completely new restaurant at a different location. However, ghost kitchens have fewer limitations when it comes to customers. Most delivery apps like Postmates, Grubhub, and Uber Eats offer a delivery radius of up to 5  miles. A 5 mile radius in a highly populated metropolitan area can contain absorbent amounts of possible customers that otherwise may never come across your storefront on the street. Also, as many brick-and-mortar restaurants suffer from loss of foot traffic during rainy or snowy days, food delivery booms on those types of days.

What Are the Disadvantages?

While there are certain massive advantages to ghost kitchens, it’s important to note that simply opening up shop isn’t all you need to do to be successful. You’re entering an extremely competitive market.

While we’ve noted having to pay the extra cost of having a storefront as an advantage to ghost kitchens, you’re still missing out on the “free” advertising of people simply walking post your establishment and wanting to grab something to eat. You’re 100% building an online business.

Due to the 5 mile radius around your ghost kitchen being your customer base, it’s extremely important to pick a location that fits your businesses target audience. You may be able to place your kitchen in a low-income area for lower rent, but then will the people around you be able to afford what you’re selling or even have food delivery built into their day to day lives. It’s an extremely important decision to make when starting a ghost kitchen business to do your market research of the surrounding areas.

Who Should Start A Ghost Kitchen?

Ghost kitchens are still a new innovation that is being tested on a daily basis. However, with the food delivery boom being undeniable, the business model is one that is versatile for many different uses. If you fall under any of the following categories, ghost kitchens may be something that is right for you .

host ghost kitchen

Aspiring Chefs & Entrepreneurs

While you may not be able to compete price-wise with larger brands to start out, it’s hard to find a cheaper way to test your restaurant concept in a commercial setting. As a newcomer, you may not be able to compete with larger brands on price at first, since you likely won’t qualify for bulk order discounts or outspend them on ads, but there’s no better way to learn than by doing—and with such low risk, it’s no wonder why so many first-timers are choosing to open ghost kitchens instead of full restaurants.

host ghost kitchen

Food Truck Owners

Trying to balance in-person customers with food deliveries in a small kitchen that a food truck offers can be as frustrating for cooks trying to complete orders as it is for customers having to wait for their food. Having a ghost kitchen that can still be creating orders while the truck is in transit, at events, etc. can greatly optimize your business model.

host ghost kitchen

Established Chains

Chains exploring expanding into metropolitan areas where rent is extremely expensive are perfect prospects for ghost kitchens. Being able to have a large customer base of a 5-mile radius in densely populated areas while being able to rent a location that is ~50% smaller and less staff increases profit margins and offers a great solution to testing out new markets.

host ghost kitchen

Small Restaurants Eager To Expand

Have you had an established restaurant and feel all but maxed out? Instead of building a second or third expensive location, a ghost kitchen can serve as a one-dimensional location for you to expand your customer base at a cheaper cost. The ghost kitchen also can help your flagship restaurant work more efficiently moving all the food deliveries off-site.

host ghost kitchen

Content Creators & Influencers

Famous chefs, influencers, and brands are taking advantage of their expansive followings and creating ghost kitchens. With the low upfront costs it’s a drop in the bucket for large businesses to see if they can take advantage of the booming food delivery trend.

host ghost kitchen

University Area Dining

The increased trend in food delivery apps is significantly felt in areas with younger consumers as they feel more comfortable using these services at their disposal. Due to this, many small businesses in cities around universities struggle to be efficient balancing their in-person and online orders. A ghost kitchen off-site can greatly increase your output to serve your customers.

COVID-19: The State Of Ghost Kitchens

Due to the pandemic induced government shutdowns around the world, restaurants have already had to pivot their business operations to delivery and takeout to options. In doing so, many have been forced to adopt ghost kitchen-style operations to stay open.

However, what happens when the pandemic is officially beat and the normal foot traffic returns? It would be silly to simply forget about the food delivery apps. Planning for the future of balancing both can be a great way to get out with a foot ahead of your competition during these tough times. A ghost kitchen can be the best solution to optimize your food business. 

Where Do You Go From Here?

The number one thing to realize is that the food delivery boom is happening. The second thing is that the trend is likely not going away anytime soon. Jumping on the ghost kitchen bandwagon can be a monumental decision to the future sustainability of your business.

With that being said, it’s also important to be aware that opening a ghost kitchen and/or virtual restaurant requires a lot of initial groundwork and market research on your part. As with any major business decision the pros, cons, and possible pitfalls are all things you need to consider before putting the money out for a ghost kitchen.

Who to Contact for a Containerized Kitchen?

If you’re considering building a  shipping container kitchen , the experts at BMarko Structures can answer all your questions. Give us a shout and we’ll help you out!

" * " indicates required fields


  • In The News

BMarko Structures Headquarters

  • 2624 Weaver Way, Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30340


  • (678) 798 8309


  • Monday-Friday
  • 8:30AM-5:30PM(EST)

host ghost kitchen


2023 © bmarko structures llc. all rights reserved. privacy & terms.

host ghost kitchen

What’s a ghost kitchen? A food industry expert explains

host ghost kitchen

Associate Professor of Hospitality Management, Colorado State University

Disclosure statement

Jeffrey Miller does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Colorado State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

View all partners

Man puts food in a bowl using tongs.

While the phrase “ghost kitchen” may conjure up images of haunted houses, the reality is a bit more mundane.

Ghost kitchens are food prep operations with no waiters, no dining room and no parking lot – really, no public presence whatsoever.

But on food delivery apps, they’re alive and well.

In short, ghost kitchens are physical spaces for operators to create food for off-premises consumption. And on apps like Grubhub and DoorDash, listings for restaurants operating out of ghost kitchens usually don’t look any different than those for brick-and-mortar operations. For example, where I live in northern Colorado, there’s a restaurant called Rocco’s Ravioli that appears on the apps. But Rocco’s doesn’t have a storefront. It’s a food delivery service that makes food in a ghost kitchen.

One trend I’m seeing is the formation of central, commissary-style ghost kitchens with multiple restaurants or brands working out of the same physical space. These are often located in industrial parks on the outskirts of cities, since there’s no need to pay downtown rents when there’s no front-of-house operation.

Why ghost kitchens matter

While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the first ghost kitchen opened, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that accelerated their growth .

By March 2020, most U.S. jurisdictions had forced restaurants to close their dining rooms to limit the spread of the coronavirus. While some restaurants closed never to reopen , others pivoted to a delivery or carry-out model with varying levels of success.

[ Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter .]

Some small food operators used ghost kitchens to get a foothold in the market during a time when opening a standard restaurant with a dining room would have been unthinkable. As long as the high fees charged by the major delivery services could be mitigated or built into the price, food delivery outfits working out ghost kitchens could find a way to make a living. Even national chains like Chili’s and Applebee’s used ghost kitchens to keep cash flowing and test new menu items using different brand names in case the ideas flopped.

With customers adapting to the trend quickly and easily, it’s likely that ghost kitchens are here to stay.

  • Coronavirus
  • Restaurants
  • Quick reads
  • Speed reads
  • Significant Terms

host ghost kitchen

Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Engineering

host ghost kitchen

Coordinator, Peer Mentoring

host ghost kitchen

Partner Relations Manager

host ghost kitchen

Disability Health Research Lead

host ghost kitchen

Lecturer/ Senior Lecturer in Accounting

10 Ghost Kitchen Brands You Might Not Know Are Owned By Restaurant Chains

Person handing off food delivery bag

It seems like convenience is everything these days. With delivery apps becoming easier to navigate by the minute, anything your heart desires is a few clicks away. The latest craze in the restaurant industry is ghost kitchens, with some reaping the benefits without even realizing who is really making their food. It's a long way from the days of brick and mortar, sit down eateries.

The pandemic forever altered the way people interact with local restaurants, and in its aftermath some things stuck. Ghost kitchens are a COVID-fueled convenience that isn't going anywhere, essentially "virtual restaurants" sharing a kitchen with another establishment, strictly for digital transactions. 

Initially, it seemed like such associations were almost always a secret. Companies were quietly adding new restaurants to their delivery roster, complete with branding and marketing strategies that kept their connections vague. Sometimes, it took some sleuthing; Google searches revealing a seemingly new hot chicken place that was actually a side hustle from where you had your twelfth birthday party. 

If the food is good, transparency never hurts. Below is a breakdown of some well-trafficked ghost kitchens — and the restaurant chains behind them.

Pasqually's Pizza & Wings

As a kid, a fun house meets pizza palace is a dream come true; as an adult, it doesn't exactly scream takeout option. That was the dilemma for Chuck E. Cheese's, seemingly solved by a radical in-app re-name: Pasqually's Pizza & Wings.

If you're a longtime fan of the kiddie birthday party institution, it might not seem nearly as covert. Pasqually is a longtime pal of Chuck E. in the company's folklore, a pizza chef with a wide grin and a twirly mustache. In past incarnations, when not slinging pizza, patrons could find him rocking out as the drummer in Munch's Make Believe Band.

Of course, Chuck E. Cheese's is better known for videogames and Whac-a-Mole than five-star food; the ghost kitchen hasn't done much to elevate that culinary reputation. Pasqually's low-key eatery, hidden behind the dining room's flashing lights, offers multiple pizzas, meatballs, cheesy breads and wings, but hasn't received great reviews. Sure, the nostalgia of classic pies might be enough to bring you back to elementary school parties, but it might just not be the same.

Thrilled Cheese, Super Mega Dilla, Pardon My Cheesesteak, Tender Fix

Over the past several years, the International House of Pancakes has branched out in unique ways. As part of a concerted effort to move past pancakes,  IHOP  has showcased multiple alter egos through four ghost kitchens named Thrilled Cheese, Super Mega Dilla, Pardon My Cheesesteak, and Tender Fix.

Thrilled Cheese serves up a melty assortment of gooey grilled cheeses with names like New Wave Fave (American cheese, bacon, tomato, avocado and eggs on multigrain bread) and Cubano (Swiss, pulled pork, ham, pickles and mustard on a hoagie). Super Mega Dilla, inspired by the online trend of folding quesadillas in offbeat ways, offers creations with names like the Super "Italian" Stallion and the Mega Cheeseburger Dilla. For cheesesteak lovers, Pardon My Cheesesteak serves an array of Philly-inspired specialties; there's also Tender Fix, a chicken tender concept announced in early 2023.

Burger Den, Melt Down

Denny's is largely seen as an IHOP rival, so it's no surprise that the introduction of the ghost kitchen concept ha opened another front in their ongoing battle for breakfast-and-beyond supremacy. The post-bar hangout spot operates two ghost kitchens: Burger Den and Melt Down. While the franchise restaurants continue to serve up American classics, burgers and gooey sandwiches take center stage with their ghosts.

Burger Den  promises "big, craveable burgers and shakes delivered day and night," with outside-the-box ingredients like onion rings, Mozzarella sticks and fried eggs on them. They're all about sizing up over there; big burgers, big shakes, and big portions all around. The Meltdown , meanwhile, delivers "Ooey Gooey Melty Goodness" with "attitude" in dishes like the Hittin' Snooze Melt (sausage, bacon, ham, scrambled eggs and American cheese on potato bread with a maple spiced spread) and the Hot N' Spicy Melt (golden-fried chicken breast tossed in Nashville Hot sauce with melted Swiss cheese, tomato, pickles, and mayo on grilled Texas toast). Comfort food will always be at the center of the Denny's brand, and the same can be said for either of their dopamine-releasing spinoffs.

Rotisserie Roast

For years, a big name in quick, homestyle food on the go has been Boston Market. They've been around since the 1990s, and recently the New England-born eatery known for roasted chicken and side dishes has been branching out. Order from the ghost kitchen Rotisserie Roast, and what you'll get is a succulent rotisserie chicken that tastes suspiciously like a Boston Market bird. But that's one of the refreshing elements of Rotisserie Roast — they're hardly trying to keep any sort of secret.

"The direct connection to Boston Market is visible in all online ordering apps and on our packaging," Randy Miller, president of Boston Market, told CNN in 2020 . "Our Rotisserie Roast concept advertises 'Crafted by Boston Market' on the logo."

With such transparency on display, this ghost kitchen doesn't deviate much from the fundamentals of the Boston Market menu. There are some Rotisserie Roast-unique special sauces and healthier alternatives offered, alongside rotisserie-fueled bowls and bundles. Unlike many of their fast food ghost kitchen competitors, Boston Market's Rotisserie Roast is less of an eat-in-your-car type of dinner and more of a cover-the-table-and-bring-some-home option.

It's Just Wings, Maggiano's Italian Classics

While the vibe is very different, there are two prominent chain restaurants under the purview of Brinker International. Chili's, the baby back rib house, and Maggiano's Little Italy have the same parent company, and Brinker has introduced two ghost kitchens over the past few years, both following the style of their popular franchise forebearers.

It's Just Wings is the hospitality group's spin on fast-casual crispy wings, while Maggiano's Italian Classics whips up traditional fare inspired by Italy in minutes. Chili's successor, It's Just Wings, is still going strong, but Maggiano's Italian Classics is on its way out,  according to early 2023 sentiments from the company. 

Chief financial officer Joe Taylor  said on an earnings call that the closing of Maggiano's virtual brand was "part of simplifying our restaurant operations," while CEO Kevin Hochman said "simplification" is a key word at Brinker, and they want to concentrate on "What we call core four ... burgers, fajitas, chicken crispers and margaritas."

If you're a fan of Maggiano's Little Italy, don't worry. Although their virtual spin-off seems to be no more, there are still several dozen Maggiano's all over the United States.

Tender Shack

Tender Shack delivers fried chicken in many forms — from sandwiches to tenders — around the clock,  advertising itself as "dang good chicken, fries & cookies." The chain has some 725 locations from South Carolina to Ohio and Louisiana. Believe it or not, what this Outback-adjacent eatery doesn't have, however, are any references to kangaroos, boomerangs or didjeridoos.

"Tender Shack provides incremental sales with attractive margins and requires zero capital investments," Bloomin' Brands CEO Dave Deno said in 2021 on an earnings call discussing the brand launch . "As we rolled out Tender Shack in test markets, it was clear we had a winner ... the brand exceeded all of our sales, profit, guest and operating metrics."

Outback's Bloomin' Brands Inc. launched the delivery-only enterprise in Tampa in 2020 in the kitchen of another restaurant in its family, Carrabba's Italian Grill. Focused on chicken rather than steak or Italian food, Tender Shack sells its tenders in groups of ten or twenty, with 5 different sauces from which to choose. They also offer the naughtily-named "Nashville Hot AF– As Fire Tender Sandwich" and a milder, more censored alternative. Don't forget the fries. 

Conviction Chicken

Conceived as the ultimate post-work hangout, TGI Fridays offers more than  happy hour specials . But if the hustle and bustle is too much, the chain has a virtual option that heads right to your door: Conviction Chicken. 

The offspring leans into its "good enough to be illegal" marketing strategy, complete with a ball-and-chain running chicken as its logo and a statement  front and center on its website  that says "when it comes to dangerously addictive chicken, we've got you and your crew covered."

Menu items range from wings to chicken sandwiches to off-the wall dessert options. There's the Fried Slammer (chicken breast, crispy golden brown, topped with bacon, mayo, fresh cabbage mix and pickles on a soft challah bun), the Drunken Chicken Fingers (crispy chicken fingers tossed in Cajun seasoning and "extra whiskey-glaze, in case you're feeling saucy"), Cellmates (jumbo Cajun-seasoned onion rings and seasoned fries), and for the final sentence, Felony Fudge.  

Cosmic Wings, Neighborhood Wings

"Eatin' good in the neighborhood" has served as the on-and-off-again Applebee's slogan for some time now, but sometimes things need to change. This home for classic, American food has jumped on the ghost kitchen wave a few times, most notably when parent company

Dine Brands introduced Neighborhood Wings in early 2020. 

This delivery-only option doesn't stray too far from Applebee's mantra, or its menu. Scott Gladstone, VP of strategy and development at Applebee's, told  TODAY  in 2020 that wings have always been a big seller.

"At Applebee's restaurants, wings are a top selling menu item," he explained. "We launched Neighborhood Wings by Applebee's on GrubHub to make it even easier for guests to get their wings fix and to give us the opportunity to test out new items made for wing lovers that aren't on our main menu."

Another side hustle brand, Cosmic Wings, came into play about a year after Neighborhood Wings. It has found success with bold, novelty concoctions like Cheetos-dusted bites, developed in conjunction with PepsiCo Inc. and its Frito-Lay division, but not available for sale at any Applebee's.

When chicken wings are in discussion, Wingstop won't be far behind in the conversation. The popular fast-casual chicken joint consistently dishes out hot, succulent wings in record time. Founded in Texas, Wingstop takes its wings very seriously. There are more than 1,500 Wingstops all over the country today, but fans have a new reason not to bother leaving their houses.

The brand expanded from wings to thighs with Thighstop, launched in summer of 2021. As delicious as chicken thighs can be, Wingstop kicked off its virtual brand because of the much-hyped chicken wing shortage that made headlines during the pandemic. It was so well received that they continued delivering tasty fried chicken bites, even after wings started becoming regularly available again. 

Wingstop has powered through one economic obstacle after another , and with its Thighstop concept, the oft-overlooked chicken thigh takes center stage, showcasing its versatility and tender juiciness. A ghost kitchen born of savviness, this culinary endeavor proves that when it comes to chicken, there's no winging it. The ghost kitchen can still be found in delivery apps scattered about, although Thighstop seems to have quieted down as of late, at least on Instagram .

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse is a favorite among West Coast lovers of pizza and more. Sure, the sunny coast has fresh fish and bright, healthy flavors, but that doesn't stop Californians from enjoying some carbs and a cold one every now and again. The eatery has been around since 1978, gaining fame for its take on deep-dish pizza, and, most importantly, its  Pizookie desserts . Today, more than 200 BJ's Restaurant locations can be found all over the states — and now, so can their ghost kitchen, dubbed Slo Roast.

If it wasn't for a few telltale signs, you might not suspect that Slo Roast is part of the BJ's Restaurant family. This hybrid kitchen is all about the meats, slow roasted of course. They've somehow simplified a notoriously lengthy process, making a solid delivery choice for a picnic feast. When perusing the menu, BJ's brand makes an appearance once it is time to order beverages and sweets. BJ's Brewhouse craft beers are featured on the Slo Roast delivery menu — exclusive to DoorDash — as are, naturally, Pizookies.

Ghost story: The haunting of a Staten Island catering hall by the ‘lady in the portrait’

  • Published: Oct. 16, 2023, 5:30 a.m.

Historic Old Bermuda Inn

Historic Old Bermuda Inn, Rossville, is rumored to be haunted by the figure in this portrait, Martha Mersereau. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Bubbly conversation and clinking glassware sounds generally play in the backdrop at The Historic Old Bermuda Inn. Although sometimes at the Rossville catering hall, rumors of its resident ghost slip into the lively chatter.

“It’s the spirit of Martha Mersereau, they say. She’s the lady in the portrait,” offers Cindy Brennan, the Old Bermuda’s general manager.

Mersereau once lived in the antebellum-period mansion around which the modern structure is built, Brennan explains.

According to Advance records, Mersereau died in her home in 1860. Depending on the source, her husband’s name varies: it could be Peter, John or William. But anecdotal accounts are in accord: the lady of the house suffered from a broken heart when her man never returned from the Civil War.

With that nugget of history, a haunting tale begins on Staten Island.

An archived Advance article notes, “Stories have been told of seeing the young woman walking through dining areas and appearing on the stairs. Some say that you can feel as though she is there watching over you. Cold wind and shattering lights are just some of the things that witnesses have reported.”

Historic Old Bermuda Inn

The hallway in the old portion of the Old Bermuda in front of Mersereau's portrait. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)

As per , some thing purloined items from the kitchen. Past guests and staff claim witness to a woman peering down from an upstairs window.

In the past few decades, Brennan says paranormal experts have camped out in the Inn overnight. She’s watched ghost busters hunt for cold spots, physical phenomena supposedly connected to the ethereal.

One account by GhostQuestUSA on YoutTube lists Old Bermuda Inn as Number 10 on its list of “Top 13 Most Haunted Places on Staten Island.”

Its narrator prattles, “Her spirit is often seen by guests throughout the Inn especially on the second floor in the bedroom where she died. Workers performing renovations on the Inn also report hearing strange sounds coming from vacant areas as well as feeling the presence of an unseen entity.”

Historic Old Bermuda Inn

The catering hall gets into the Halloween spirit with a pirate's station — treasure and rum-soaked skeleton included. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)


Constructed in 1832 with fluted columns and a sweeping view of the Arthur Kill, the Mersereau manse became a boardinghouse about a century later. Funeral director John Vincent Scalia and interior decorator George Burke purchased the property in 1984. The transaction earned them a horse corral and barn with a handsome, whitewashed building parsed into four units.

Scalia and Burke rehabilitated the house, restoring its wooden floors and plaster moldings. Eventually they expanded into a cupola-topped dining room dubbed “The Conservatory.”

With Burke’s antiques and the digs’ historic vibe, an upscale restaurant with a formal dress code was borne in 1988 — Burke’s Landing. Servers navigated tables in hoop skirts and Burke flitted through dining rooms to greet guests in a cape.

Within a few years, large parties eclipsed the a la carte dining scene.

1987 Press Photo Burke's Landing Restaurant owner George Burke & chef, Rossville

Chef Marta Viguri and Burke's Landing host and co-owner George Burke in what is called "The Conservatory." (Staten Island Advance File Photo) Staten Island Advance

While catered affairs now dominate the daily schedule at The Old Bermuda, its Sunday “Champagne Brunch” persists from the former Burke’s Landing days. These feasts take place downstairs in the historic portion of the venue. Weddings and other affairs carry on in another wing with a second floor and its outdoor veranda.

In the midst of the happy hullaballo, Martha Mersereau is remembered — memorialized, in fact. Her colorful portrait is hung in a hallway covered with floral wallpaper, just a few steps away from the busy brunch scene.

Historic Old Bermuda Inn

Brunch is located in the older portion of the Inn where the Messereau home's original columns are part of the room's design. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)

As a 33-year veteran of the Inn, does Brennan believe in ghost tales...or that a feminine phantom lurks in the shadows outside her office?

She confesses to be a non-believer in the supernatural — although Martha’s painting inexplicably burst into flames one night several years ago. The episode left singe marks behind to prove it.

“People say her eyes follow them as they walk down the hallway or go upstairs...but who knows?” she says with a shrug.

Historic Old Bermuda Inn

Pumpkins and candles deck the halls of the Inn which hosts an annual Freaky Friday dance and "Boo" Brunch. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)

She adds, “On a more practical note, the catering hall is a charming place and Halloween is a particularly festive occasion here.”

A Freaky Friday dance party happens on Friday, Oct. 27 from 8 p.m. until the witching hour. For $75 a guest, preferably dressed for the occasion, it includes a full bar and buffet, plus prizes for the best outfit.

Sunday’s “Boo Brunch” on Oct. 29 opens at 11 a.m. That package is $42 for adults with the buffet and a complimentary mimosa or Bloody Mary. Children eat and drink for $28 each and can enjoy games. Activities include a decorate-you-own white or orange pumpkin. Every child wins a prize and every person can wear a costume, Brennan says.

She encourages, “Even the adults can dress up. And it would be pretty cool to see people in hoop skirts again!”

Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food/ Editor. She can be reached at [email protected] .

Historic Old Bermuda Inn

Sandy Salerno shows off the Inn's fall-ish flare in the main lobby of the building as the catering hall prepares for its upcoming Freaky Friday dance and big "Boo Brunch" later this month. (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri)

More in food:

Michelin adds 11 restaurants to prestigious guide, but none from Staten Island — yet

Chefs from Staten Island cook at New York City Wine and Food Festival this week

Best global eats on Staten Island: Peruvian food and a famed Pisco sour

Staten Island restaurants step up, play ball to raise funds for Staten Island 5-year old fighting cancer

For 911 pizza, dial Domino’s

National Coffee Day: How the locals celebrate. Try these 10 Staten Island spots.

If you purchase a product or register for an account through a link on our site, we may receive compensation. By using this site, you consent to our User Agreement and agree that your clicks, interactions, and personal information may be collected, recorded, and/or stored by us and social media and other third-party partners in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

  • Main content

Finding the best burger in New York

"Food Wars" hosts Harry Kersh and Joe Avella spend a day in New York City visiting four locations to find the city's best burger. This is "Food Tours."

More from Food Tours

host ghost kitchen

host ghost kitchen

Accessibility links

  • Skip to content
  • Accessibility Help

Follow us on

  • Quick Takes

Spain's UFO hunters

Extraordinary stories of everyday people whose life somehow changed the course of history.

Spain's UFO hunters

The pyramid tomb of Mad Jack Fuller

How 'Exercise Tiger' went so wrong

How 'Exercise Tiger' went so wrong

The only piece of US land in the UK

The only piece of US land in the UK

The cosmonaut who fell to Earth

The cosmonaut who fell to Earth

The incredible Byzantine power couple

The incredible Byzantine power couple

The musical icon who became a WWII spy

The musical icon who became a WWII spy

The incredible life of Joseph Boulogne

The incredible life of Joseph Boulogne

The most successful pirate in history

The most successful pirate in history

The man who volunteered for Auschwitz

The man who volunteered for Auschwitz

The Rasella street attack

The Rasella street attack

The 18th Century transgender spy

The 18th Century transgender spy

A lake of beauty and intrigues

A lake of beauty and intrigues

How our view of the Universe changed

How our view of the Universe changed

Extinction reversed: Judean palm reborn

Extinction reversed: Judean palm reborn

Three girls in resistance

Three girls in resistance

The richest person who ever lived

The richest person who ever lived

The 'immortal' cells of Henrietta Lacks

The 'immortal' cells of Henrietta Lacks

How to catch a killer from your couch

How to catch a killer from your couch

The playboy spy who inspired James Bond

The playboy spy who inspired James Bond

The Night Witches of WWII

The Night Witches of WWII

The night the world almost almost ended

The night the world almost almost ended

The hospital the Nazis could never find

The hospital the Nazis could never find

The world's first drag queen

The world's first drag queen

The world’s first woman Prime Minister

The world’s first woman Prime Minister

The secret of a murdered priest

The secret of a murdered priest

The myth of breast-baring pirates

The myth of breast-baring pirates

The case of the stolen frescoes

The case of the stolen frescoes

The original Fyre Festival

The original Fyre Festival

host ghost kitchen

NBC2 News

  • Mobile Apps
  • TV Listings
  • NBC2 Anchor Request Form
  • Request a Hurricane Seminar
  • Children’s TV Report
  • FCC Applications
  • Subscribe to our newsletter!
  • Hurricane Week
  • National & World News
  • Florida News
  • Live Stream
  • NBC2 Investigators
  • Story 2 Share
  • Forever Family
  • Hurricane Tracker
  • Doppler Radar
  • Future Radar
  • Hurricane Ian Storm Story
  • Daily Planner
  • 7 Day Forecast
  • Weather Blog
  • Weather Class
  • Home Sweet Home
  • Fish Finder
  • Mr. Food Recipes
  • Theatre Reviews
  • Book Reviews
  • Jobs & Recruiting
  • Jobs at NBC2

NBC2 News

Home » News » Local » Collier County » Naples Zoo hosts free admission Halloween event for kids

Naples Zoo hosts free admission Halloween event for kids

NAPLES, Fla. – Naples Zoo’s Halloween event, Boo at the Zoo, returned this weekend. Naples Zoo is inviting all kids and their parents in a costume to the event.

The event runs Friday, October 13, Saturday, October 14, Sunday, October 15, and Monday, October 16th from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. 

Courtney Jolly says Boo at the Zoo is hosting a weekend of fun.

“You can come and meet pirates and princesses and villains and all kinds of other things and see all the animals and see all the animals with their pumpkins. They love Halloween and Pumpkins too. It’s a good time at Boo at the Zoo,“ said Jolly.

The zoo will turn into a storybook with costumed characters, and trick-or-treating for kids 12 and under. 

“All kids in a costume get in for free. All you have to do is buy the adult tickets and the kids are welcome to come. Everything is included in admission, from the facepainting to the mini unicorns,“ said Jolly. 

“It’s so much fun, and of course they can enjoy other activities like the normal zoo visit like the animals and see our new orangutans and come and feed the giraffes. There’s a lot of fun to be had at Boo at the Zoo,” she said. 


80-year-old woman missing in Collier County

80-year-old woman missing in Collier County

Explosion under investigation at Monterrey Condominiums on Marco Island

Explosion under investigation at Monterrey Condominiums on Marco Island

Kids wearing a costume will receive free admission. You can buy your tickets  here  or at the day of the event. 

Suzanne Somers, star of ‘Three’s Company,’ dies at 76

Volunteers gather to plant a thousand mangroves on sanibel.

Volunteers gather to plant a thousand mangroves on Sanibel

Florida based Mrs. Pasta recalls frozen meat pasta products

Biden will head to Israel and Jordan as concerns mount that Israel-Hamas conflict will spread

Biden will head to Israel and Jordan as concerns mount that Israel-Hamas conflict will spread

7-year-old injured in North Fort Myers hit-and-run crash

7-year-old injured in North Fort Myers hit-and-run crash

host ghost kitchen

  • Terms of Use
  • Digital Advertising Terms & Conditions
  • Broadcast Terms & Conditions
  • Your California Privacy Rights
  • Interest-Based Ads
  • EEO Reports
  • Captioning Contacts
  • WBBH Public Inspection File

Hearst Television participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.

Copyright © 2023 Hearst Television

  • Latest Headlines
  • Subscribe our newsletter
  • Hurricane Ian Recovery Resources
  • Hurricane Guide+
  • Fort Myers Radar
  • Hurricane Tips
  • Entertainment
  • Photography
  • Press Releases
  • Russia-Ukraine War
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Asia Pacific
  • Election 2024
  • Movie reviews
  • Book reviews
  • AP Top 25 Poll
  • Financial Markets
  • Business Highlights
  • Financial wellness
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Social Media

Novelist Murakami hosts Japanese ghost story reading ahead of Nobel Prize announcements

In this photo provided by The Waseda International House of Literature, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami speaks during a ghost story reading event in Tokyo, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023. Murakami hosted the event amid growing attention before the announcement of this year's Nobel Prize in literature, an award he is a perennial favorite to win. (The Waseda International House of Literature via AP)

In this photo provided by The Waseda International House of Literature, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami speaks during a ghost story reading event in Tokyo, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023. Murakami hosted the event amid growing attention before the announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize in literature, an award he is a perennial favorite to win. (The Waseda International House of Literature via AP)

  • Copy Link copied

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami hosted a ghost story reading event in Tokyo amid growing attention before the announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize in literature, an award he is a perennial favorite to win.

Murakami said at Thursday’s reading that he enjoys scary stories and wanted to write more of them. The event featured one from the 18-century collection “Tales of Moonlight and Rain,” which intrigued Murakami since his childhood and is known to have inspired his work .

The classic collection written by Akinari Ueda and called “Ugetsu Monogatari” in Japanese explores a blurry borderline between the real and surreal, which Murakami said in a guide he contributed to a 2021 magazine made him wonder which side he was on.

Borders and walls are important motifs in Murakami’s writing. Protagonists in his stories often travel through walls or between two worlds and encounter mysterious, exotic characters. While Murakami has said he grew up mostly reading Western novels, some experts have also noted the influence of Ueda’s stories in some of Murakami’s work.

Murakami has been a candidate for the Nobel Prize in literature for more than a decade, and the winner of the 2023 prize is scheduled to be announced on Oct. 5. If he wins, he would will be first Japanese writer since Kenzaburo Oe in 1994 to be named a Nobel laureate.

Japanese media also have mentioned novelists Yoko Ogawa and Yoko Tawada as possible contenders in recent years, and international media also have put Chinese fiction writer Can Xue and American novelist Thomas Pynchon on the list of this year’s potential winners.

The pending Nobel Prize did not come up at Thursday’s ghost story event. Kayoko Shiraishi, a veteran actress known for ghost tale monologues, performed Ugetsu’s “The Kibitsu Cauldron,” a story of an imprudent man who marries a priest’s good daughter despite a cauldron’s fortunetelling revealing a bad omen. The protagonist meets a horrendous end after betraying his wife, who becomes a vengeful spirit.

Murakami said he enjoyed Shiraishi’s “scary” performance of multiple roles and said he would like her to try “The Mirror,” one of the short horror stories he wrote in 1983.

Murakami wrote his first published novel, 1979’s “Hear the Wind Sing,” after being inspired to write fiction while watching a baseball game at Meiji Jingu Stadium, which is now part of a controversial redevelopment of Tokyo’s historic Jingu Gaien park area, to which opposition is growing.

Murakami, who voiced opposition to the project in his radio show last month, repeated his concern at the story reading event, noting the plan involves removing about 1,000 trees. An avid runner, Murakami also noted that the area is part of his running course, and that the stadium is home to his favorite team, the Yakult Swallows.

“Jingu Gaien is a very important place for me,” Murakami said. “I will continue to raise my voice of opposition to this redevelopment, and any of you who agree with me, please support.” The audience applauded his statement.


  1. Postmates Launches Its First Ghost Kitchen In Downtown LA

    host ghost kitchen

  2. Everything You Need to Know About Ghost Kitchens

    host ghost kitchen

  3. What Are Ghost Kitchens: Everything You Need to Know

    host ghost kitchen

  4. Postmates Launches Its First Ghost Kitchen In Downtown LA

    host ghost kitchen

  5. Checklist For Opening A Ghost Kitchen

    host ghost kitchen

  6. Understanding Ghost Kitchens

    host ghost kitchen


  1. Ghost kitchen helps local family dish out Italian food to Las Vegans


  1. Kitch 101: How to start a ghost kitchen

    A ghost kitchen is a great way to "fill out the map" for delivery and catering beyond your brick-and-mortar locations. It also gives you a chance to test new markets. If you're doing well in Boston you might do well in Philly, DC, or NYC. With a ghost kitchen, you can try that out without the risk. I have 10-100 places.

  2. What Are Ghost Kitchens: Everything You Need to Know

    Ghost kitchens are essentially restaurants without the dining space. Their focus is to sell and fulfill online food orders for delivery using third-party apps like Grubhub, UberEats, and DoorDash, or with their own delivery operation. As a result, they typically have no visible storefront. Because the concept is still evolving, there isn't a ...

  3. What is a ghost kitchen? Where virtual restaurants cook their food

    Popular YouTuber James Donaldson, also known as MrBeast, launched his ghost kitchen brand MrBeast Burger in December 2020 but in mid-June 2023 announced that he would be moving on from the virtual ...

  4. Ghost Kitchen 101: See How to Start a Virtual Restaurant from Home

    A ghost kitchen is sometimes referred to as a cloud kitchen, a dark kitchen, or a virtual kitchen. And while all of these terms refer to restaurants without a physical location for hungry diners to visit, a ghost restaurant differs in important ways from brick-and-mortar restaurants.

  5. Ghost Kitchens Explained + Examples (2022)

    Ghost Kitchens Explained + Examples (2022) Ghost Kitchens: History & Predictions for the Future of Restaurant Types. ghost kitchens. BY Corinne Watson. SEP 24, 2021. According to research done by CBRE, About 111 million people in the U.S. used an online ordering app for food in 2020—a 17% increase from 2019. Online food ordering app revenue ...

  6. Your #1 Source for Ghost Kitchens

    Ghost Kitchen Network makes it easy as 1-2-3 to find a ghost kitchen that fits your needs. We curate the top ghost kitchens around the U.S. and Canada so you don't have to. Vetted and approved kitchens; North America's largest source of available kitchens; Flexible options for any business;

  7. What is a ghost kitchen?: the ultimate guide for your restaurant

    With your ghost kitchen comes 200 to 300 square feet of prime real estate at a fraction of the cost. Ghost kitchens provide you with real estate within a delivery hotspot. This means you're strategically located in an area where you will capture the most online orders from customers nearby.

  8. Ghost Kitchens

    With our Ghost Kitchen Playbook, exclusive tools, proprietary technology and expert one-on-one support from foodservice industry leaders, we'll help you launch your Ghost Kitchen. Helping you build your brand with easy digital solutions and branding support. Optimizing your menu with exclusive food costing tools and chef-driven recipes ...

  9. Your Ghost Kitchens Guide

    Euromonitor estimates ghost kitchens will grow to over a 1 trillion-dollar global market by 2030. Restaurant Dive states that the United States currently has 1,500 ghost kitchens - and growing. Statista estimated that the online food market in the United States will be worth $23 billion by 2023. The data shows that ghost kitchens are here to ...

  10. Your Own Home Ghost Kitchen Startup: Tips for Success

    Put the bulk of your money into the most important items. This should include a range and stovetop, good ventilation, refrigeration and freezer units, mixers, heavy-duty cookware, quality cooking tools, food processors, and a large sink or industrial dishwasher. Make a list and write down the most important items first.

  11. What is a Host Kitchen?

    Ghost kitchens. Unlike a host kitchen, a ghost kitchen (sometimes called a dark kitchen) isn't part of a regular kitchen operation. It's often called the original 'delivery-only' concept because they prepare their food in a kitchen that isn't open to the public. Instead of operating from a brick-and-mortar restaurant like a host kitchen ...

  12. What Is A Ghost Kitchen? (+How to Start Your Own)

    A ghost kitchen requires an integrated technology system for accepting online orders, processing payments and efficient kitchen management. Point-of-Sale (POS) software An essential requirement for a ghost kitchen is a point-of-sale (POS) system that accepts orders from multiple channels such as third-party delivery apps and online ordering ...

  13. The Ghost (& Host) Kitchens Revolutionizing the Industry

    It's no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic decimated the hospitality industry. | Meet the five most innovative ghost and host kitchens that are changing the food-delivery industry as we know it. The Ghost (& Host) Kitchens Revolutionizing the Industry | Bar & Restaurant

  14. How to Start a Ghost Kitchen in 13 Steps

    1. Create Your Concept. The first step to getting your ghost kitchen off the ground is choosing a concept. Your ghost kitchen concept is, essentially, your menu and brand name. Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, ghost kitchens' names and menus need to be optimized to perform well in online searches.

  15. How to Start and Run a Ghost Kitchen

    Much easier. Establish a ghost kitchen brand. Once you have your kitchen concept and menu, pick a restaurant name ( this business name generator can help) that reflects your brand. For example, you don't want to name your restaurant Pizza King if you're primarily selling salads. Make it accurate and easy to remember.

  16. How to open a ghost kitchen: What restaurant owners need to know

    Ghost kitchens don't need servers, bartenders, food runners, or hosts. All they need is a core kitchen team. New audience For current restaurant owners, launching a new ghost kitchen concept can mean reaching a totally new audience. If you run a steakhouse and launch a burger ghost kitchen at a much lower price point you are now serving a ...

  17. Ghost Kitchens Vs. Virtual Restaurants

    With a ghost kitchen, you don't need to buy property and equipment. Instead, you can lease the space and equipment in an existing licensed commercial kitchen. Low operating costs. A ghost kitchen doesn't require servers, bussers, hosts or bartenders, so you can dramatically reduce labor, hiring, and training costs.

  18. How To Start A Ghost Kitchen From Home

    Step 6 - Storage and space. When starting a ghost kitchen from home space may be limited which means you need to make sure you have enough room for the catering equipment and surface area to prepare and package the food. You also need adequate refrigeration and storage space for your stock and packaging. If you don't have enough space at ...

  19. 2023 Ghost Kitchen Guide: Everything You Need To Know

    Startup Costs Are Unprecedentedly Low - If you're looking to open a new restaurant, the startup costs are no joke. The median construction cost to startup a restaurant is $200,000. This doesn't even include any type of kitchen or bar equipment, decor, seating, etc. With a ghost kitchen, the building can be roughly 50-60% smaller than a ...

  20. Ghost Kitchens: Definition, Benefits and How To Start One

    How to set up a ghost kitchen. Here are a few steps restaurant leaders can use to start a ghost kitchen: 1. Determine a market and menu theme. One of the key steps in developing a restaurant is often deciding what kind of food to serve. Many restaurant leaders make this decision based on personal factors, like a desire to share family recipes.

  21. What's a ghost kitchen? A food industry expert explains

    Ghost kitchens are food prep operations with no waiters, no dining room and no parking lot - really, no public presence whatsoever. But on food delivery apps, they're alive and well. In short ...

  22. How Are Ghost Kitchens Evolving Post-Pandemic?

    Ghost kitchens were undoubtedly a perfect solution for restaurants to expand their delivery capacity during the pandemic. They allowed restaurant goers to try new foods, enjoy the ease of delivery ...

  23. 10 Ghost Kitchen Brands You Might Not Know Are Owned By Restaurant

    As part of a concerted effort to move past pancakes, IHOP has showcased multiple alter egos through four ghost kitchens named Thrilled Cheese, Super Mega Dilla, Pardon My Cheesesteak, and Tender ...

  24. Ghost story: The haunting of a Staten Island catering hall by ...

    The historic Staten Island catering hall has a long history with the ghost of a woman who died from a broken heart. ... some thing purloined items from the kitchen. Past guests and staff claim ...

  25. 11 Expert Tips for Hosting Holiday Dinners Like a Pro

    7. Set Reminders. It can be easy to get lost in conversation once the guests arrive. To keep track of the meal's timing in the midst of hosting, Julia says she sets "a lot of alarms for things, like to take certain things out of the fridge so that they're not cold when they're served.". 8.

  26. Finding the Best Burger in New York

    We got a local and a British tourist to find New York's best pizza. "Food Wars" hosts Harry Kersh and Joe Avella spend a day in New York City visiting four locations to find the city's best burger. This is "Food Tours." Show more.

  27. From the Holy Grail to UFOs: Spain's mountain of mysteries

    Montserrat is an eye-catching mountain range near Barcelona, Spain. Its scenic Benedictine abbey hosts the beloved Virgin of Monserrat, a Black Madonna who is the patroness of Catalunya. For ...

  28. Naples Zoo hosts free admission Halloween event for kids

    NAPLES, Fla. - Naples Zoo's Halloween event, Boo at the Zoo, returned this weekend. Naples Zoo is inviting all kids and their parents in a costume to the event. The event runs Friday, October ...

  29. Novelist Murakami hosts Japanese ghost story reading ahead of Nobel

    TOKYO (AP) — Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami hosted a ghost story reading event in Tokyo amid growing attention before the announcement of this year's Nobel Prize in literature, an award he is a perennial favorite to win.. Murakami said at Thursday's reading that he enjoys scary stories and wanted to write more of them. The event featured one from the 18-century collection "Tales of ...